ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

The Contradictory Nature of Neoliberalism within the Innovation Policies of Finland and Estonia

Adrià Alcoverro
Södertörn University
Adrià Alcoverro
Södertörn University
Download Full Paper

Abstract

Innovations are comprehended from a market perspective by the Estonian and the Finnish government. An innovation is generally understood as a new creation of economic significance, and therefore as an idea that is translated into an economically significant product. Innovation policies aim at creating the correct environment to enable the creation of innovations through private firms. The economic competitiveness of the national economy in the world markets is largely dependent on the success of the innovation policies. Innovation policies are not only entrepreneurially-driven but they are conceived from a global mindset. The strong linkage between innovations, competitiveness and economic growth places Finland and Estonia as what Bob Jessop (2002) has identified as Post-Fordist Schumpeterian competition states. Neoliberalism is a nebulous concept often vaguely defined. It is about deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation, and hence about capturing and re-using the state to shape pro-entrepreneurial policies by the establishment of a free-market order (Crotty 2003, Peck 2010). In both Finland and Estonia, it is possible to argue that the ideological substratum of the innovation policies of both states generally complies with this definition. Nevertheless, there are contradictory elements: innovation policies are carried out through innovation systems, which are an amalgam of public institutions and private agencies that in the Finnish case work largely within the framework of the welfare state. The state de-regulates and re-regulates in some particular sectors such as research centres, universities, innovation clusters etc, with clear aim of creating a good environment for the creation of innovations. Therefore, the way in which innovation policies are carried out, although is based on neoliberal principles, is contradictory with some core principles of neoliberalism. In the process of neoliberalisation, though, contradictions are likely to arise since it is about extending and reproducing the power of the market rule in spaces with different background. The adaptation of the neoliberal agenda to these different historical settlements has as an outcome the contradictory nature of neoliberalism (Peck & Tickle, 2011). The Finnish and Estonian innovation systems and innovation policies are good examples of this variegated reproduction of neoliberal ideology.