Patrick van der Duin
Delft University of Technology
To discuss the entire development of the Dutch economy and society here would require a book of its own. We do, however, want to address a number of aspects that we feel are relevant to the Dutch innovation system. We emphasize that, in the first years after World War II, there was not really an innovation system as such, and that even today there is no fully fledged and national innovation system. In light of the fact that the Dutch economy and society is very open, the significance of the Dutch innovation system as a geographical phenomenon must not be overrated, even though it has a right to exist.
Like many other Western European countries, the economic structure of the Netherlands suffered tremendously during World War II. Because of its strategic location, the port of Rotterdam was hit particularly hard. The Dutch economy benefited hugely from the Marshall Plan, the aid provided by the U.S. at the end of the war. After the sober years following the war, the country experienced high economic growth between 1951 and 1973 (Van der Zanden and Griffiths, 1989, p. 210). After that, the global economic malaise also affected the Netherlands until the 1980s, with particularly high unemployment figures. An important turning point was the 1982 Wassenaar Agreement between government, ...