Explaining the science and technology policies of regional governments

October 2005
Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP) CSIC, Working Paper 2005-10

Luis Sanz Menéndez & Laura Cruz Castro

There is simultaneous trend of regionalisation and decentralization in Europe, a trend that has also affected the science and technology policy domain, with an open debate on the functioning of the multilevel governance system. Regional authorities have become directly involved in the design and implementation of regional S&T policies, however the interventions of sub-national governments are much more diverse than the prevailing view about the convergence of regional policies towards innovation policies might imply. This article describes science, technology and innovation policies adopted by five Spanish Regional Governments between the mid-80s and the beginning of the 21st century from a comparative perspective. The paper firstly describes the policy approaches (academic v. industrial) adopted by the regional authorities. Secondly, we analyse the explanatory factors in order to reach certain conclusions about the circumstances under which regional governments are able to implement policies of one or the other approach. Despite the influence of some structural factors, especially as regards initial political preferences, the analysis highlights the relevance of the mobilised interests when they are concentrated in the region, showing that changes in policy orientation are particularly difficult when those interests play a role in the administration of such policies. Preferences towards a policy reorientation are more likely to succeed with the aid of appropriate administrative arrangements, especially along with significant budget increases.