Call for papers special issue Science and Public Policy (SPP)

Basic motivation:

This special issue seeks to bring together various strands of current policy thinking and practice that share an orientation towards directionality of innovation, embracing the idea that the generation and diffusion of innovation needs to be oriented towards responding to societal needs and demands. As yet, these strands of policy thinking and practice have not been interacting sufficiently, both conceptually and in terms of policy practice. Bringing those strands together, as depicted in Figure 1, promises to inform our understanding of the opportunities and challenges of a new generation of innovation policy. As such, this special issue seeks to make a leap forward in conceptualising 21st century innovation policy.
The first strand of policy thinking is associated with an increasing trend to design and implement demand-based innovation policy instruments. These are instruments targeting stakeholders as buyers and users of innovation as part of established science and innovation policy, designed and implemented through generic innovation or economy ministries. The rationale here is to boost innovation on the supply side by providing better demand conditions, and in so doing also contribute to societal well-being as innovations are developed to satisfy articulated demand.Second, there is continuous interest in and application of innovation policy measures, most notably on the demand side, to support policy goals of sectoral ministries, whereby improved and enhanced demand for innovative solutions are supposed to contribute to achieving sectoral policy goals.Third, and most radically, we increasingly see political claims to tackle grand societal challenges and develop mission-oriented policies. In contrast to traditional sectoral policies, those missions cut across established political responsibilities and constituencies and require much more long term and coordinated approaches. Designing policy to deal with those challenges is highly complex, and it is far from clear how demand-side (innovation) policy is best mobilised in the portfolio of measures to help steering societies and innovation systems in socially desired directions.

The special issue seeks to spark a new debate on the meaning of and conditions for directionality of innovation policy, with a specific focus on the role of demand-based measures to support it, be it in generic innovation policy, in sectoral policy or in mission-oriented policy which cuts across policy areas. The special issue seeks to mobilise contributions in any of those three strands concerned with directionality. In particular, however, we welcome work that bridges those strands.

Theoretical, conceptual, empirical and methodological contributions are invited. The following lead questions illustrate the broad remit and ambition of the special issue:

1) Understanding directionality in innovation policy

  • What theories and concepts can help us to understand the conditions and challenges for directionality of innovation policy?
  • What theories help us to understand the political processes and institutional structures that determine the relationship between innovation policy, mission/challenge policy and traditional sectoral policy? What is the specific role of the state in innovation policy that defines direction for innovation?
  • How can we understand and improve processes to organise and govern agenda-setting in the context of demand-oriented policies, which starts with or focuses on needs and demands and thus is by definition closer to citizens and end-users than supply policies? Can we learn from user innovation literature about how to organise and set up user-producer interactions in the context of mission-oriented and sectoral programmes?
  • How can we better understand the demand for, challenges and effects of demand-based policies to support directionality in innovation policy, traditional sectoral policy (energy, health etc.), and in mission oriented policies?
  • Are there any new models of organising innovation policy for missions and sectoral policy goals, and for the governance of the relationship between innovation policy and sectoral-/mission-oriented policies?
2) Understanding the role of demand-based instruments in directional innovation policy
  • What do we know empirically about the effects of demand-oriented policies and instruments within and across the three strands, both on innovation generation and diffusion, and in terms of their contribution to achieving sectoral and mission goals?
  • What do we know about sector-based and/or mission-oriented agencies and the portfolio of instruments they use to achieve their missions? What are organisational models for successful mission orientation mobilising demand-side instruments?
Submission, revision and decision process:Deadline for first full drafts or extended abstracts (1500 – 2000 words) is January 15. The editors of the special issue will then review. Authors of papers accepted will then be invited for a workshop in Manchester late March / early April 2016. For this workshop, full drafts of the papers are expected.After this workshop, final drafts of the revised papers will be expected May 20.Final inclusion of each contribution, and indeed the entire special issue, is subject to approval of the established SPP review process. The revised papers will thus be reviewed by the editors as well as by anonymous reviewers of Science and Public Policy.

– *Jakob Edler, University of Manchester, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, AMBS, Harold Hankins Building, Manchester, UK M13 9PL (
* Contact person

– Wouter Boon, Utrecht University, Innovation studies group, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands (


figure 1