Varieties of Innovation Systems
Varieties of Innovation Systems
The first decade of the 21st century ended with a dramatic worldwide fi-nancial and economic crisis, culminating in the crash of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the debt crisis in the USA and the Euro-Zone in 2010 (Scharpf 2011), and questioning the market economy systems in al-most all developed countries. With that, this crisis has also opened up a new chapter in the debate on the commonalities and varieties of capitalist systems, which dominated the field of political economy in the past de-cades (Streeck 2010). While this debate has in much of the postwar period been centered on the systemic antagonism of capitalism and so-cialism, the fall of communism in the late 1980s led the debate into an 'end-of-history' (Fukuyama 1992) direction in the 1990s, presuming the global spread of the victorious capitalist system in its (neo-)liberal appear-ance, represented above all by the USA. This euphoria, however, even stronger inspired the field of political economy to develop a parallel re-search agenda focusing on the differences between national varieties of capitalism, not longer acknowledging the capitalist world as a unitary block, but, rather, as a diversified set of institutionally distinctly coordinated market economy systems (Chandler 1990; Albert 1993; Berger/Dore 1996; Crouch/Streeck 1997; Hollingsworth et al. 1994; Hollingsworth/Boyer 1997; Kitschelt et al. 1999; Whitley 1999). The rise of this varieties-of-capitalism-perspective in the 1990s and, above all, in the early 2000s through the influential contribution of Peter A. Hall and David Soskice (2001a), and its controversial reception in the light of the liberalization mainstream, now receive new vigor in the context of the actual crisis, in which whole national and international economic and financial systems are menaced in their stability by economic shockwaves, questioning their stability and their persistence as a whole.
While large parts of the debate on the varieties-of-capitalism-approach emphasized at least a certain trend (if not pressure) towards liberalization of coordination even in those market economies previously organized in a different way (Deeg 2005; Hay 2005; Morgan et al. 2005; Streeck/Thelen 2005; Cerny et al. 2006; Deeg/Jackson 2007; Hall/Thelen 2009; Mahoney/Thelen 2010; Thelen 2010), the actually observable differences in the impact of the recent crisis raise more strongly than before the question of long-term sustainability in globalized capitalism, efficient structural models and comparative institutional advantages, not only, but especially when looking at the deficiencies of the financialized (neo-)liberal Anglo-Saxon model or of the state driven Mediterranean type of capitalism (Streeck 2010). Latest contributions and debates, not only in the field of political economy, vindicate in this connection for example the German coordinated market economy model, which is celebrated for its technological leadership in export intensive consumer durables and equipment goods, its innovative capacity and international competitiveness (The Economist 2010), revitalizing the varieties perspective and providing new impetus to deeply understand the roots of these distinct success stories.
Even stronger than before, in the context of the current crisis also the consequences of economic globalization on national market economies are debated, in which economic action is increasingly determined by boundless globalized markets, flows of trade, goods and communication, as well as internationalized competition (Giddens 1990; Hirst/Thompson 1996; Held et al. 1999; Robertson 2001; McMichael 2005). In this debate, there is a broad consensus that in contrast to the 1980s and 1990s, for firms in the developed industrial nations the reorganization of firm structures as well as the rationalization and flexibilization of production processes no longer stand in the focus of their entrepreneurial activities. Rather, it is now acknowledged that in a s