Stimulating innovation in the Dutch water construction sector, Introducing a new innovation systems delineation: the Project-Based Innovation System
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In this research, we attempt to determine on which properties policy makers should intervene to boost the innovative performance of the Dutch water construction sector. Therefore, we focus on the most promising source of innovation in this sector, i.e. infra projects. We use the innovation systems perspective to analyse the successful innovation processes of some of these infra projects to determine which properties are crucial to their success. However, innovation systems literatures do not provide a system delineation that focuses on this unit of analysis. Therefore, we introduce such a delineation ourselves: the Project-Based Innovation System (PBIS). In order to analyse the dynamics of the build up of such an innovation system we apply the System Functions approach and the concept of motors of innovation. However, before doing so, we test whether application of this approach and concept to the new PBIS delineation is justified and find that it is. We acquire data on the build up of PBIS using event history analysis. Moreover, we focus on the successfully innovative infra projects of the Maeslantkering and the multifunctional renewal of the Afsluitdijk. Our conclusions indicate that over the different successive episodes that characterise the build up of PBIS, different types of system functions and motors of innovation are crucially important to the successfulness of the innovation process. These functions are market formation, knowledge diffusion, guidance of the search and creation of legitimacy. Moreover, the motors of innovation that are identified in a developing PBIS are the Science and Technology Push motor and the System Building motor. We formulate some practical recommendations on how the manage these properties to improve the innovative performance of infra projects in the Dutch water construction sector.