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BOKTIPS | The entrepreneurial state questioned – again

creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, teams, guidance

Horizon Europe is an EU research and innovation program that aims to address climate change, contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and strengthen the EU’s competitiveness and growth. The program runs between 2021-2027 with a budget of €95.5 billion and is an example of a Mission Oriented Innovation Policy (MOIP). The aim of this type of innovation policy is for different parts of society to work together to solve major social challenges such as the climate crisis, hunger and inequality. The most famous advocate of MOIPs is the Italian researcher Mariana Mazzucato. She argues that we cannot rely on traditional capitalism to provide solutions to major societal challenges. Instead, industry and the public sector need to share the risks and rewards.

But there are loud criticisms of this type of government innovation program. One example is the research anthology Questioning the Entrepreneurial State: Status-quo, Pitfalls, and the Need for Credible Innovation Policy. where a number of critical scholars problematize the entrepreneurial state. Now the sequel Moonshots and the New Industrial Policy: Questioning the Mission Economy (free to read via open access) has been published. The editors Magnus Henrekson, Christian Sandström and Mikael Stenkula believe that another critical book is needed because they believe that MOIP programs are implemented without analysis of risks and problems, and that past failures are ignored. Moreover, they argue that Mazzucato and other policy advocates have not been willing to debate the topic enough, which they see as a sign that we need to delve deeper into the subject.

The book presents theoretical perspectives on MOIPs and presents empirical evidence that a mission-oriented innovation policy has not been properly scrutinized. We also read about studies showing that Mazzucato is wrong in his statements about the role of the state in innovation and development. And finally, it presents alternative ways to address major societal challenges – without distorting competition, as the editors believe MOIPs do. The book is mainly aimed at politicians and policy makers and is free to download.