Since our existence as Greeks, we were never being known as people of 'quantity'. It is not our physical space. That's why the Greeks were always in ‘quality’, where the
intelligence is needed to solve technical problems with an innovative way. Moreover Hellenism was always offering to Humanity. For the Greeks, innovation is normal and not infrequently. Only when we talk about innovation does not refer to patents and called patents. Innovation is not demonstration alone. It is sufficient to cause a phase change and things and their vision is completely different way after their existence. Greece today, is ready for change. Greece needs the best and brightest minds of today’s generation to build effective institutions, a meritocratic society and a business culture that thrives on synergies, healthy competition, and win-win partnerships.
Innovation in Greece
Comparisons show that Greece performance is generally lagging in most dimensions of innovation, with rankings significantly lower than those achieved by other small countries that are leaders in innovation. This makes the task of improving Greece’s performance especially daunting given that reforms will have to be simultaneously implemented across many policy areas and levels.
In the majority of the indicators, the rankings of Greece are below the average ranking of the European Union (EU). In particular the country’s ranking in R&D expenditures, in firms’ capacity to innovate, and in trademarks and patents is especially low. Other areas with significant underperformance appear to be found in the quality of the educational system, in the university-industry relationships, in business start-up requirements, and in technology infrastructure.
Of particular concern is the fact that the evolution of Greece’s rankings along time does not show signs of convergence towards the European average levels. By contrast, other small countries in the periphery have made important steps in improving their positions in the last years.
The strengths of Greece
In some indicators Greece shows performance above the European average, even though this performance is lower than that achieved by small leader countries. Specifically, Greece appears to be particularly open to new ideas (as per the indicator on “national culture adaptation to new ideas”) but underperforms in the final result, the implementation of the ideas. Total business expenditures on innovation (in a wider comprehensive sense, including expenditures beyond R&D) as well as public subsidies for innovation are also high. However they do not seem to drive the country to higher innovation rankings. Tertiary educational attainment is high and so is the availability of scientific personnel. But achievement on these dimensions may be offset, at least to an extent, by the low quality of the educational system, as suggested by the respective indicators.
Greece performance is high in the “new-to-the-company” products and in in-house innovation indicators (etc organizational). This explains the relatively high expenditures on innovation, which are understood in a wide sense, including all expenditures on modernization and development of products/services which are “new-to-the-company” but not necessarily “new to the market”. It also explains the low rankings in the number of patents, as the focus of the indicator is not on R&D as such. Therefore, a model of adoption and diffusion of new products, technologies and methods seems to prevail. It is quite possible that the solutions adopted have been tried elsewhere, most often abroad, with these solutions –e.g. products, technologies and methods - being adapted to the conditions of the Greek market.
In comparison with other countries, Greece does not lack in innovation policies and programs. Actually, in many cases Greece applies policies that are European best practices. However, the plethora of policies and programs has not been followed by results. National resources are dispersed into many programs that cover all aspects of the modernization of business enterprises, with a low and rather vague threshold requirement in order to be categorized as innovative. The notion of “new to the company” is widespread. Existing policies seem to strengthen general entrepreneurship rather than focusing on e.g. innovative entrepreneurship.
Exploring a Greek model of innovation may entail putting emphasis on the adoption and adaptation of proven technologies and solutions through small – incremental innovations, applications in new context, in their adaptation to consumer needs, in customer service, or in internal organizational processes. This is probably more operational in an economy wide scale than emphasizing a model focused on basic, radical innovations. Such incremental adaptations and improvements may be inspired and enriched by the Greek reality, the rich traditions and social values.
The Greek model emerging from actual practice can be strengthened by targeted policies: through the promotion of international collaborations and networking, in a global search for new proven ideas and technologies, through the promotion of absorption capabilities and mechanisms with specific programs and institutional structures, as well as through support to innovative entrepreneurship. In essence this direction points to a model of open innovation, tailored to the adoption and diffusion of solutions and technologies. Gradual progress toward this direction will lead to an increase in the capacity of adaptation and generation of innovations and, in turn, in endogenous innovation.
The correlation of innovation performance with social values and national culture indicators suggests that the value system plays a role. Indicators such as trust, the avoidance of power distance, and promotion of collectivism have a positive impact on innovation. This would be attributed to further sharing and mobility of ideas, to the operation in practice of a model of open innovation. Given its value characteristics, Greece can create an advantage on these dimensions.
Nevertheless, we must keep our reservations towards these conclusions because the statistical results are preliminary. Further composite econometric models and methodologies are needed in order to test such research hypotheses. Such an endeavor is beyond the scope of the present study.