A framework for mission-oriented innovation policy: Alternative pathways through the problem-solution space

Iris Wanzenbo, Joeri H. Wesseling, Koen Frenken, Marko P. Hekkert and Matthias Weber aim for a better conceptualization of Mission-oriented Innovation Policy (MIP). 

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The starting point is an analytical decomposition of societal problems and innovative solutions based on three dimensions of wickedness: (1) contestation; (2) complexity; and (3) uncertainty. The authors argue that both problems and solutions can be divergent (contested, complex, and uncertain) or convergent(uncontested, well-defined, and informed). Based on the resulting problem–solution typology, they suggest a process-oriented view on MIP and discuss three alternative pathways along which con-vergence between problems and solutions can be achieved to come from wicked problems to legitimate solutions. The authors illustrate these pathways using examples for different societal problems related to health (smoking bans), security (CCTV), and energy (wind turbines). For policy makers, locating a societal challenge in this problem–solution space, and implementing policy strategies to achieve problem and solution convergence, is expected to accelerate both the legitimacy of a mission and the resulting solutions.

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Published Aug. 28, 2020 1:03 PM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2020 1:13 PM