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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 47. The National Innovation System in Germany

Matthew Allen

University of Manchester, U.K.

Brief history and description of the National Innovation System in Germany

Many aspects of Germany's innovation system have their roots in the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, characteristics of apprenticeship schemes and universities as well as the origins of important research institutes, such as the Max Planck Society, and large and innovative industrial companies—for example, BASF, Daimler, Hoechst (part of sanofi-aventis since 2004), and Siemens—can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century and, indeed, in many cases to the latter half of the 19th century and beyond. It will not be possible here to describe the various changes that have taken place in the innovation system since then (for more detailed historical accounts see Grupp, Dominguez-Lacasa, and Friedrich-Nishio, 2005; Keck, 1993). This chapter will, instead, focus on more recent changes. This chapter will, of course, draw attention to the historical foundations of those institutions that have been part of the National Innovation System (NIS) in Germany for decades. It will, in addition, cover those aspects of the NIS that have been created or that have come to prominence more recently.

The importance of earlier periods should not, however, be underestimated as Germany's innovative strengths often still lie in those industries that came to prominence in the 19th century. For instance, and as will be shown, ...

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