Measuring Innovation - A Discussion of Innovation Indicators at the National Level

Swiss Science and Innovation Council Secretariat Working Paper 3/2015

30 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2015  

Dirk Meissner

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: August 1, 2015

Abstract

The present analysis, contracted on behalf of the Secretariat of the Swiss Science and Innovation Council, discusses measures of innovation based on three well-known rankings: the Global Innovation Index, the Innovation Union Scorecard, and the Knowledge Economy Index. It examines some basic characteristics of these indexes, including the only partial reflection of the latest developments or of country-specific aspects, the great difficulty of obtaining comparable data, and the lack of information about causal connections between input and output data. Bibliometric data, the number of tertiary degrees by age group, and patent statistics, whose respective limitations are discussed, are among the indicators widely used to create the various indexes.

The analysis comes to the conclusion that the relevant dimensions of a higher education, research, and innovation system are not fully covered by these systems of indicators. The author finds the reason for this lies not only in lacking data but also because not all areas in higher education, research, and innovation are measurable. Trying to express the innovative performance of a country by aggregating indicators is problematic since there is little empirical evidence about the reciprocal effects of indicators on one another. A further weakness lies in the insufficient reflection of qualitative aspects in innovation indicators. As a consequence, one runs the danger that policy measures will be adopted based on quantitative data without, or with inadequate consideration, given to qualitative dimensions even though these are of particular importance in higher education, research and innovation. Despite these limitations – and even if indicators at best can only identify strengths and weaknesses rather than explain them – the analysis also points to the usefulness of indicators in providing a general impression of the innovation system of a given country.

Keywords: Innovation Indicatro, Global Innovation Index, Innovation Scoreboard

JEL Classification: O31, O32, O33

Suggested Citation

Meissner, Dirk, Measuring Innovation - A Discussion of Innovation Indicators at the National Level (August 1, 2015). Swiss Science and Innovation Council Secretariat Working Paper 3/2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2649384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2649384

Dirk Meissner (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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