Science, technology and innovation systems of small economies under pressure - sketching three possible future pathways of the Finnish system

Mika Nieminen, Torsti Loikkanen, Antti Pelkonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore and discuss possible future pathways of the Finnish science, technology and innovation (STI) system. The paper sketches three speculative pathways for the Finnish STI system. Design/methodology/approach: Theoretical considerations behind the pathways are based on analyses of the determinants and behaviour of small open economies, their innovation systems and governance. The empirical background of the paper is in the current trends of the Finnish economy and STI system. The analysis of pathways is based on three dimensions: institutionalized policy environment and economy, domestic interest groups and policy and STI institutions and funding. Changes in these dimensions are analysed by paying special attention to two variables: the position of the nation state and the general economic development. Findings: The first future pathway outlined is based on an optimistic view by setting Finland on the basis of past success factors as an European and global STI hotspot. The second pathway is based on the assumption that the Finnish STI system will be increasingly subordinated to international structures and decision-making. The third one is geared around the assumption that the Finnish STI system will be dominated by industries. Research limitations/implications: While Finland has been seen as a European showpiece of innovation since the early 2000s, currently the country's national economy and STI system are undergoing a critical period. The paper sheds light on this transformation and its potential future outcomes and attempts to raise debate on the options policy makers may face in the increasingly complex global environment in small countries. Originality/value: The paper introduces potential future avenues for the Finnish STI system and provides a contribution to the debate of the future of small countries' STI systems and innovation policies by emphasising the limited space of the STI policy choices and how the development paths and space for policy making evolve from the interaction of socio-economic factors between domestic and wider international context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-319
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



    • Research
    • Knowledge economy
    • Organizational change
    • Generation and dissemination of information
    • Government policy
    • Information society

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