The Technological Capabilities of Nations: The State of the Art of Synthetic Indicators
Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 76, pp. 917-931, 2009
Posted: 22 Dec 2009
Date Written: December 21, 2009
Composite synthetic indicators of the technological capabilities of nations have been used more frequently over the last years becoming a sort of Olympic medal table of the innovation race. The European Commission, specialised United Nations Agencies, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and individual scholars have developed several of these measurement tools at macroeconomic level. All these indicators are based on a variety of statistical sources in order to capture the multidimensional nature of technological change. This paper reviews these various exercises and: i) it brings into light the explicit and implicit assumptions on the nature of technological change; ii) it discusses their pros and cons; and iii) it explores the consistency among the results achieved. Most of the final rankings at the country level are fairly consistent, but significant discrepancies for some nations emerge. The value of synthetic indicators of technological capabilities for public policy, company strategies and economic studies is finally discussed.
Keywords: Composite indicators, innovation measurement, National systems of innovation, Cross-country comparisons
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