By Franco Malerba

Innovation and technological switch stick with markedly diversified pathways counting on the sphere within which they ensue. Contributions from eighteen specialists of their fields examine the framework of sectoral structures of innovation to investigate the innovation method, elements affecting innovation, the connection among innovation and dynamics, altering obstacles and transformation of sectors, and the determinants of the innovation functionality of organisations and international locations in several sectors.

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This similarity in the sectoral patterns has been associated with features of technological regimes, knowledge base and learning processes that are quite invariant across countries (Breschi, Malerba and Orsenigo, 2000). However, differences in national innovation systems matter, and they affect some of the features that a sectoral system may take on in a country. For example, in analyses based on patents, national innovation systems affect the absolute values of the variables related to the innovative activities of firms.

For example, on average, technological entry is lower in Germany and Japan than in the United States and the United Kingdom (Malerba and Orsenigo, 1996). This theme is further developed in this book by Casper and Soskice, in chapter 10. A different but somewhat related issue concerns the relationship between sectoral systems and the international performance of countries (regions). Again, this issue may be tackled from different angles. As previously mentioned, the relationship between the features of a sectoral system and the international performance of countries (regions) in that sector is mediated by the national (regional) institutions and non-firm organizations that form a national (regional) system of innovation and production.

Nelson and Winter, 1982; Dosi, Marengo and Fagiolo, 1996; Malerba, 1992; Teece and Pisano, 1994; and Metcalfe, 1998). Firms also include users and suppliers, who have different types of relationships with the innovating, producing or selling firms. The role of users is extremely important in several sectors, such as agro-food or instrumentation (Lundvall, 1992; and Von Hippel, 1988). The focus on users puts a different emphasis on the role of demand. In a sectoral system, demand is not seen as an aggregate set of similar buyers but as comprising heterogeneous agents (with specific attributes, knowledge and competencies), who interact in various ways with producers.

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