In this study we have been concerned with the processes of dynamic change and innovation that seem to characterise the new knowledgebased economy. Chapter 4 developed a conceptual model of the innovation process: the subsequent three chapters applied this model to enterprises, education and training, social cohesion and inclusion.
The conceptual model broke down the innovation process into four stages. We used a taxonomy of readinessi, intensity, impact and outcome indicators, corresponding to these four stages, with different categories of indicators being assigned to different stages of the innovation process. This taxonomy was by no means original. However, like other authors before us, we were then able to look for suitable indicators of readiness, intensity, impact and outcome, paying particular attention to those indicators that are being used by official bodies for tracking the new knowledge-based economy. Those that are being used by the European Union, as part of the Lisbon benchmarking processes, have been of special interest.
In this chapter we take stock of these indicator sets and their adequacy in light of our analysis. It is, however, first necessary to address two difficulties that we have encountered in the course of our investigation, concerned respectively with modelling and measurement.
At first glance at least, the conceptual model of Chapter 4 was a linear model, with innovations proceeding through four stages. In our discussion of the model in that chapter, we took a more nuanced approach: technological and organisation innovation interact; streams of innovation cross-fertilise each other; there are feed-back effects from later stages to earlier; innovations can move along different trajectories, depending upon the national institutional settings in which they are embedded.
As we also stressed in Chapter 4, it would be wrong to imagine that the movement through these four stages is a simple process of technological competition, in which those inventions that are most fit for purpose will necessarily triumph. Hegemonic domination and creative destruction are also involved, as successive waves of innovation reinforce the position of those first able to ride them. This also, however, means that challenges, should they develop, will take the form not of seeking to imitate and undercut existing technologies but of technological (and maybe organisational) innovations that are on a quite different terrain.