A knowledge-based perspective on system weaknesses in technological innovation systems
Journal article, 2019

The literature on technological innovation systems (TIS) provides policymakers and other actors with a scheme of analysis to identify system weaknesses. In doing so, TIS analysis centres on which system weaknesses policy interventions should target to promote further development of a particular system. However, prior TIS literature has not sufficiently elaborated on what may constitute the conceptual roots of a 'weakness'. We apply a knowledge-based perspective and propose that many-albeit not all-system weaknesses may root in four types of knowledge problems: uncertainty, complexity, equivocality, and ambiguity. Employing these as sensitizing concepts, we study system weaknesses by analysing data from a biorefinery TIS in Sweden. This analysis results in novel implications for the TIS literature and for achieving a better match between system weaknesses and the design of innovation policies.




technological innovation system

system weakness



Johan Frishammar

Luleå University of Technology

Patrik Soderholm

Luleå University of Technology

Hans Hellsmark

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Johanna Mossberg

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Science and Public Policy

0302-3427 (ISSN) 1471-5430 (eISSN)

Vol. 46 1 55-70

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Embedded Systems

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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