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Space for Innovation? Actor constellations in regional innovation policy in Mexico and Brazil

Patricia Graf
Universität Potsdam
Thomas Stehnken
Open Panel

Abstract

The proposed paper explores the incentives of public and private actors to engage in innovation policy at the regional level. It aims to support political science theory on decision processes by using comparative empirical data in the field of innovation policy. It explores the role of policy actors, their motives and strategies to influence local technological development and their behavior in federal arenas of negotiation. While the importance of space for innovation has long been established, little is known about the rationales of regional actors to engage in this policy field. Regions are increasingly subject to competition and need to distinguish themselves from others, which lead to significant intrastate differences. In the wake of decentralizing public services, the importance of innovation policy as an arena of regional policy-making has grown in the last years. But why are some regions more prone than others to develop own strategies to strengthen local technological development and innovation processes? Why do some regions cope better with national incentives and participate in national policy-making? By using empirical observations of innovation processes and policy networks in Mexico and Brazil, we analyze the strategies regional actors used to convince both national and other regional economic and political actors to join their innovation policy agenda. The empirical observations were drawn from approx. 80 qualitative interviews in Mexican and Brazilian states (two each) conducted by the authors, with government officials, members of the regional scientific community and business associations. The qualitative interviews served to question their negotiation strategies, preferences, and attitudes towards the policy field. Based on network and institutional theory considerations, we find evidence that the engagement of regional actors occurs in very policy-specific ways and that the involvement is strongly determined by political culture.