Empirical Evidence Against Varieties of Capitalism's Theory of Technological Innovation
How can one explain cross-national differences in innovative activity across the industrialized democracies? In this article, I examine the “varieties of capitalism” (VOC) response to this question. VOC theory predicts that societies with liberal-market economies will direct their inventive activity toward radical technological change, while societies with coordinated-market economies will direct their inventive activity toward incremental technological change. I find that these predictions are not supported by the empirical data, and that the evidence offered by VOC proponents depends heavily on the inclusion of a major outlier, the United States, in the class of liberal-market economies. My empirical investigation includes simple patent counts, patents weighted by forward citations, and scholarly publications (both simple counts and citations-weighted). I analyze data covering all of the VOC countries over the course of several decades, little of which reveals the innovative patterns predicted by VOC scholars. a
a For their excellent insights, critiques, and encouragement I gratefully thank Thomas Cusack, Tracy Gabridge, Michael Brewster Hawes, Derek Hill, Daniel K. Johnson, Chappel Lawson, Mark Lewis, Benedicta Marzinotto, Andrew Miller, Michael Piore, Jonathan Rodden, Herman Schwartz, James Snyder, David Soskice, Edward Steinfeld, Scott Stern, Dan Winship, the editors at International Organization, and two anonymous reviewers.