Journal of Economic Policy Reform Submissions Welcome for Special Issue

Innovation and public services: from the lab to enterprises and citizens

Journal of Economic Policy Reform

Quality, accessibility and affordability of public services are often mentioned as priorities in the policy agenda of governments, particularly in the EU (Clifton and Diaz Fuentes 2010, Florio 2013). This special issue focuses on the cutting-edge topic of the interrelation between public services (or services of general interest/SGI in the EU context) and innovation policy, already suggested in a previous special issue of this journal (Florio 2014). Public service provision is critically influenced by sustained innovation, as changes in providers’ productivity, costs, prices and ultimately consumers’ welfare depend upon new knowledge. Examples of this link between innovation, public services and well-being include advanced health technologies (e.g. Battistoni et al. 2016), digitalization of information for telecoms and transport sustainability (Picot et al. 2016) or smart infrastructures for energy efficiency and decarbonisation (Jamasb and Pollitt 2008). Many of these innovations would not be possible without basic research, discoveries in laboratories, and then R&D within firms and research institutes. Examples are the invention of the World Wide Web and of new superconducting technologies at CERN. Governments and other public institutions, such as development banks, innovation agencies, research infrastructures, state-owned enterprises and universities can play a critical role in supporting basic research and innovation. Basic knowledge embeds the feature of a global public good and market players might be reluctant to invest in a very uncertain activity, with the risk of discovering something with unknown use or with limited appropriability (Florio and Sirtori 2016). Market failures hinder the process of knowledge creation, because of long-term and uncertain returns, particularly after market liberalization and privatization (Jamasb and Pollitt 2011; Sterlacchini 2012; Xie 2012), under firms’ institutional or family ownership (Aghion et al. 2013; Munari et al. 2010). Governments may play an active role by direct support to research infrastructures and R&D, or through development banks and public enterprises with ambitious missions (Bernier 2014; Belloc 2016; Tonurist and Karo 2016; Da Teng and Yi 2014), or indirectly with their SGI, regional and innovation policies (Muscio et al. 2015).  What are the best practices in this area, beyond the evidence provided by Mazzucato (2011)? How should governments address their policies to supporting the flow of new knowledge from research laboratories to enterprises and citizens?

The special issue will publish high-quality articles on innovation in the SGI and the role played by governments or public institutions, with a blend of theoretical insights, empirics and policy implications.  A non-exhaustive list of topics includes:

  • Corporate ownership and firms’ innovation
  • Development banks as innovation brokers
  • R&D support by regional and national development agencies
  • Public enterprises, R&D, risk and long term investment
  • Socio-economic impact of publicly-funded research infrastructures
  • Entrepreneurship and government in the provision of SGI
  • Energy policy and radical technological innovation
  • Transport policy and decarbonisation of transport services
  • Public investment and change in the digital economy
  • Regulation, R&D and innovation
  • Government and technological innovation in health services
  • Patent legislation versus promotion of open access.

Submission Instructions

Submitted articles should clearly show their policy relevance, and should be based on a solid conceptual framework and convincing empirical evidence.


  • Abstract submission: September 30, 2017
  • First feedback from the Guest Editors: two weeks after the abstract is received
  • Full paper submission to the Guest Editors: December 31, 2017
  • Final publication: 2018
  • Abstract proposals for a preliminary consideration by the Editors should be submitted to:

Editorial information