Mission-oriented or mission adrift? A critical examination of mission-oriented regional innovation policies

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This debate article provides a critical examination of the rationale for, and validity of, mission-oriented innovation policies. It does so by providing a critique of the “mission-oriented” approach espoused for the new Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB). The central contention put forward in this paper is that its mission-oriented approach constitutes “fuzzy” policy making which is highly opaque, lacking sufficient detail and fails to align itself properly with the demand conditions within the Scottish innovation system. Arguably, this policy approach could result in significant policy path dependencies which could further reinforce (rather than reverse) the inherent weaknesses within the Scottish innovation system. The paper outlines an alternative “diffusion-oriented” approach which seems better equipped at overcoming the entrenched “low productivity, low innovation equilibrium” evident in Scotland. Regional innovation policy must be properly customised to ensure new agencies are effectively tailored and aligned to the demand conditions within their local innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems. In short, policy should be context-led rather than mission-led.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date12 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2020


  • Innovation systems
  • State investment banks
  • Mission-oriented
  • Diffusion-oriented
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystems


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