Institutional Reform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: An Agenda for Europe

Institutional Reform for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: An Agenda for Europe

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The European Union suffers from an innovation deficit, which must be remedied if the EU is to improve the quality of life of its citizens and remain competitive in the global marketplace. In order to do so, more productive entrepreneurship is required. We analyze how Europe’s institutional framework conditions could become more supportive of entrepreneurship and innovation, and outline a reform strategy to achieve this objective. To be viable, the strategy emphasizes the large cross-country differences across the union. Each EU member state has evolved its particular bundle of institutions, many of which are complementary to one another. If these complexities are not acknowledged, well-intended reforms may become unpredictable or even detrimental to entrepreneurship and economic development.

Chapter 2 provides a theoretical foundation to help identify the areas where the need for reform is the greatest. The theories of the experimentally organized economy and of entrepreneurial ecosystems are used to identify six competencies, in addition to that of the entrepreneur, that are necessary for ideas to be generated, identified, selected, and commercialized. The competencies are those of inventors, professional managers, competent employees, venture capitalists, actors in secondary markets, and demanding customers. Importantly, no one is in charge of the ecosystem’s skill structure, which limits what can be achieved through top-down reform. We also draw on the varieties of capitalism literature, which identifies institutional complementarities as an important driver of the persistent institutional differences across polities. The existence of institutional complementarities implies that viable policy changes must be compatible with existing institutional patterns and that a specific change will have effects that extend throughout the institutional system. As such, they help explain both gridlocks and cascading changes.

In Chap. 3, we discuss the institutions that the previous literature identifies as the most relevant for nurturing the activities of entrepreneurs and other actors in the ecosystem’s skill structure. Overall, we discuss nine areas: (i) the rule of law and the protection of property rights; (ii) the tax system; (iii) regulations governing savings, capital and finance; (iv) the organization of labor markets and social insurance systems; (v) regulations governing goods and service markets; (vi) regulations governing bankruptcy and insolvency; (vii) R&D, commercialization and ix knowledge spillovers; (viii) human capital investments; and (ix) informal institutions. Although our starting point is that some institutions or institutional forms are simply the most propitious for entrepreneurship and economic growth, we complement this first-best perspective with insights offered by the perspectives discussed in Chap. 2, and clarify the extent to which policies and institutions interact with and reinforce one another.

In the fourth and final chapter we summarize the study and present our main conclusions. To make the European Union more entrepreneurial to promote innovation and economic growth we propose a reform strategy with respect to the aforementioned nine areas, which we consider to be the most pertinent institutions and policies in order to foster a productive entrepreneurial economy. Overall, the proposed institutional changes move in a liberalizing direction, but we acknowledge that one-size-fits-all policy reforms aimed at freer markets will not necessarily be successful. Instead, a successful reform strategy must consider country differences that affect the viability of reform. Nevertheless, policymakers must not lose sight of the long-term goal of institutional liberalization to promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and growth. Hopefully, this work inspires both confidence and humility regarding Europe’s innovation future.

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  • capital gains
  • Capital gains taxation policy
  • Commercialization
  • Corporate income taxation policy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship in Europe
  • financing
  • Horizon 2020
  • Horizon 2020 project
  • Human capital investments
  • income
  • Informal institutions
  • innovation
  • Innovation financing
  • Innovation policy in EU
  • Investment
  • Knowledge spillovers
  • Labor income taxation policy
  • Protection of property rights
  • R&D policy
  • Rights
  • Taxation
  • Technology
  • Technology commercialization


DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-55092-3


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