Leadership‐Driven Innovation & Evolution of Societies

UNU-MERIT Working Papers n. 2014-087, ISSN 1871-9872

66 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2015

See all articles by Mario Coccia

Mario Coccia

National Research Council of Italy (CNR); YALE University; Arizona State University

Date Written: March 16, 2015


The fundamental problem in the field of the economics of innovation is which economic subjects are the sources of radical innovations and high technological performances. The study here confronts this problem by developing a theoretical framework underpinned in the concept of purposeful system having a purpose of global leadership, which endeavours to analyse the sources of General-Purpose Technologies (GPTs) in a Schumpeterian world of innovation-based competition. Through an inductive study based on some societies that in the history have generated technological and economic change (Roman and Britain Empire, and current USA), the analysis shows vital characteristics that can be the sources of changes in the techno-economic paradigm. In particular, purposeful country-systems with high economic military potential, supported by a strategy of high R&D expenditures, and the objective of global leadership, winning international conflicts against other great powers (a very strong competition for the hegemony), tend to generate several inventions and radical innovations that are spread, in the long run, across wide geo-economic areas. It seems that the initial sources of GPTs (e.g. aqueduct, steam engine, jet aircraft, computer, etc.) are, de facto, associated with the global posture of great powers to achieve/sustain global leadership in intensive (effective and/or potential) international competitions, rather than warfare per se. This study refers to this nexus as leadership-driven innovation. International conflict is the context that spurs the GPTs, which are driven by global leadership of critical societies, whereas initial military R&D, demand and procurement are important mechanisms underlying the process that induces emerging pathbreaking technologies. The vital linkages between observed facts can support a general socio-economic framework of the sources of path-breaking innovations based on a leadership of main economic subjects that support innovative activity (mainly in communications and energy systems parallel to transportation technology) and the evolution and development of human societies.

Keywords: Technological Innovation; Technological Change; Technological Paradigms; General-Purpose Technologies; Economic Change; Systems Concepts; Conflict; War; Global leadership; Great Powers; Techno-Economic Paradigm; Radical Innovation.

JEL Classification: O31; O39; O10; N00; N31; N33.

Suggested Citation

Coccia, Mario, Leadership‐Driven Innovation & Evolution of Societies (March 16, 2015). UNU-MERIT Working Papers n. 2014-087, ISSN 1871-9872, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2579222 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2579222

Mario Coccia (Contact Author)

National Research Council of Italy (CNR) ( email )

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YALE University ( email )

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United States

Arizona State University ( email )

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Tempe, AZ 85287
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