Assessing Smart Specialisation: governance

Publication article | | GUZZO Fabrizio; GIANELLE Carlo

This report provides some insights on the impact of Smart Specialisation on the governance of research and innovation policy systems across EU regions and countries.


First, the analysis explores the governance arrangements underpinning Smart Specialisation strategies and the changes introduced by this policy concept. Second, it investigates to what extent (if any) and how Smart Specialisation has been promoting better coordination and collective action. The results show that Smart Specialisation has made the decision-making process and the governance of innovation policy more inclusive. One of the results of this policy experience is the reorganisation and/or establishment of coordination bodies, platforms, thematic working groups, clusters and the like. These organisations are reshaping and strengthening networks of engagement and modalities of cooperation between public and private actors, lowering transaction costs associated with collective action. There is evidence that Smart Specialisation has supported the production of a wide range of tangible and intangible collective goods, which are considered essential in promoting development processes. Finally, under the Smart Specialisation experience, inter-government coordination has received more attention that in the past and, as a result, new norms and arrangements have been experimented. However, despite these changes, and the general increase in pressure for coordination, the effectiveness of horizontal and vertical coordination is still weak. This depends on coordinating bodies and arrangements that are not properly functioning and the persistence of a silo approach in government, which is difficult to overcome. Clearly, this is an area where more efforts are needed in the future, along with the strengthening of the skills and resources to perform policy functions. In view of the new Cohesion Policy 2021-2027, the report provides two main recommendations. First, the Smart Specialisation approach should recognise more explicitly the need for upgrading the quality of governance and policy capacity. Where these elements are weak and/or incomplete they should be addressed with specific measures embedded into strategies and progress should be continuously monitored. Second, territories should discover what governance arrangements work best in their context, preferring the experimentation of new governance structures and processes and the increase of responsibilities and functions of management bodies and other relevant organisations as a result of capacity building processes, to the adoption of ideal models and best practices, which are often formally introduced without promoting real changes.

Assessing Smart Specialisation Governance.pdf
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