Goal formulation processes of Dutch goal-setting innovation policies
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The grand challenges of the 21st century and their wicked nature require changes in innovation policies and governance. ‘Governance through goals’ perspectives (e.g. mission-oriented innovation policy) are highlighted as a way to resolve these grand societal challenges. ‘Governance through goals’ perspectives are goal-setting policies that function by setting goals and then defining the instruments needed to reach them. The shift to goal-setting policies changes how governance is done and increases the importance of understanding how the formulation processes impact the course of innovation policies. This research focused on two interesting research gaps: how can goal formulation be effective and ensure the direction of innovation activities necessary to solve societal problems and secondly, how formulation processes can impact the course of innovation goal-setting policies. By combining three ‘governance through goals’ perspectives this research established four goal characteristics: ‘striking a balance between ambition and achievability’, ‘enacting stakeholders’, ‘societal desirability’ and ‘directionality’. These four goal characteristics are necessary to define effective goals for goal-setting policies. Furthermore, the combination of evolutionary governance theory and the notion of the transition arena provided a prescriptive framework on the emergence of potential influences on goal characteristics, caused by the design of formulation processes. By researching three Dutch examples of goal-setting policies: topsectors policy, the climate agreement and mission-oriented innovation policy, this research has shown the complicated web of internal and external influences on the four goal characteristics. Moreover, it has shown that the design of formulation processes may create the right conditions for goal effectiveness. The design of goal formulation processes is a delicate process potentially creating long-term positive or negative effects on the four goal characteristics, and thus, the course of goal-setting policies.