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Biotechnology and Governance in Australia and Sweden: Path Dependency or Institutional Convergence?

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The development of new generic technologies occurs within traditional structures of industry-government interaction, but also unleashes a process of 'creative destruction' generating new institutional patterns. This article, focusing on biotechnology, describes and compares policy processes and institutional arrangements in Australia and Sweden. The Swedish biotechnology sector displays a pattern of fragmentation and relatively weak state steering. Australia, by contrast, has implemented a set of comparatively coordinated regulatory and other measures to foster the growth of biotechnology. This observation contradicts the characterisation of Sweden as a 'strong state' economy, and challenges the depiction of Australia as lacking in state steering capacity. The relative open-endedness of the search in these countries for a mode of regulation of biotechnology suggests that the role of the state in economic restructuring today is fundamentally distinct from that of earlier periods.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Deakin University University of Lund

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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