Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance

Innovation Policy and Small States

General description of the specialisation
The second semester specialization “Innovation Policy and Small States” deals with small states-specific socio-economic and institutional aspects that determine the possibilities for different types (technical, cultural etc.) of innovation, paving eventually the way for economic growth and development. By following the example of Estonia and other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, students will get insight into technological capacities of these states. They will study the governance, public administration and economic structure of small states, which define the specific context for the policy measures to be used and ways to achieve the objectives of innovation policy. By following comparative study approach, the phenomenon of core-periphery relations in Europe is surveyed, and as a result, students are presented with the discussion about the possibilities and obstacles for policy transfer and learning from the experience of Western European and East Asian developmental states.

The specialization module for the ESST students consists of two courses in the total amount of 9 ECTS. These two courses are introductory and fundamental to assist students with articulating and developing their master’s thesis.

The introductory module consists of 2 courses: Public Administration and Innovation & Small States. These courses provides students with:

  • Insights into core literature on the specialization
  • Current theoretical debates and issues
  • Introduction into existing studies and empirical findings
  • An overall background to formulate a thesis outline


Schedule of specialization courses

The two specialization courses are held during the Spring term, i.e. between February and May. The sequence of courses and exact dates vary annually. All courses are scheduled for evening times starting from 5:15 PM.

The language of instruction of the whole “Innovation Policy and Small States” specialization module is English.


Maximum number of ESST students: There are no formal requirements with regard to minimum or maximum number of students for the specialization under Technology Governance program.

Course 1: Public Administration and Innovation

Number of credit points: 6 ECTS, 162 hours

Content: The course aims to give an overview about the main issues related to the role of the state in technological development and innovation. The course discusses different theoretical ways how to understand the role of the state and in particular that of the public administration (bureaucracy) in innovation processes. Also, issues surrounding the question of what should be the nature and structure of public sector in order to support and enhance technological development are discussed. In addition, the course aims to elaborate on specific challenges of catching-up (developing) economies or those in transition.

Bibliography (recommended):

  • Peter Evans and James E. Rauch. Bureaucracy and Growth: A Cross-National Analysis of the Effectiveness of ‘Weberian’ State Structures on Economic Growth.
  • Erik. S. Reinert. How Rich Countries Got Rich… and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor? Anthem Press.
  • Ha-Joon Chang. Institutions and Develpment, University of Cambridge.
  • Mariana Mazzucato. Entrepreneurial State. University of Sussex, UK.
  • Franco Amatori. Technology and Structure in Alfred Chandler, Universita Bocconi, Milan.
  • Leandro Burlamaqui. Competition Policies and Intellectual Property Issues, Universidade Candido Mendes, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Gabriel Palma. The process of De-Industrialization, Cambridge University.
  • Lars Mjoset. Technology and the Irish Development, University of Oslo.
  • Pekka Ylä-Anttila. Technology and the Finnish Development, ETLA, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, Helsinki.

Lecturer: Professor Rainer Kattel

Educational methods: Teaching consists of lectures and seminars in April-May and a number of individual assignments.

Evaluation method: Evaluation based on class participation and writing assignments.

Course 2: Small States

Number of credit points: 3 ECTS, 80 hours

Content: The course will provide an overview of the main issues involved in development and administration of small states, which face often different problems than larger states, both in terms of the nature of problems (e.g. size of the market) and in potential solutions (e.g. limited human capital). Globalization and regionalization add new complex challenges to small states. Innovation and industrial development often depend on long-term and large-scale investments and growing markets, both lacking by nature in small states. This implies special focus on innovation and industrial policy context and its peculiarities with regard to innovation and development potential of small states. Furthermore, the course examines the role and behavior of small states in an international system.


  • Baker, R. (eds.) Public Administration in Small and Island States, West Hartford, 1992.
  • Clarke, C. and T. Payne (eds.) Politics, Security, and Development in Small States, London, 1987.
  • Randma-Liiv, T. Civil Service Careers in Small and Large States: The Cases of Estonia and the United Kingdom, „Administrative Organisation, Tasks of the State, and the Civil Service“ series, vol 47, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2001.
  • Raadschelders, J. B. 1992. Definitions of Smallness: A Comparative Study. In: R. Baker (ed.). Public Administration in Small and Island States. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press
  • Benedict, B. 1966. Sociological Characteristics of Small Territories and Their Implications for Economic Development. In: M. Banton (ed.). The Social Anthropology of Complex Societies. London: Tavistock Publications.
  • Sutton, P. and A. Payne. 1993. Lilliput under Threat: the Security Problems of Small Island and Enclave Developing States. Political Studies, XLI.
  • Baker, R. 1992. Scale and Administrative Performance: The Governance of Small States and Microstates. In: R. Baker (ed.). Public Administration in Small and Island States. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press.
  • Randma-Liiv, T. 2002. Small States and Bureaucracy: Challenges for Public Administration. Trames, vol. 6(56/51), no. 4.
  • Warrington, E. 1992. Taking Account of Small Scale and Insularity in Administrative Reform Strategies: The Case of Malta 1988 – 90. In: R. Baker (ed.). Public Administration in Small and Island States. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press.
  • Tiits, M. and T. Kalvet. 2012. Nordic Small Countries in the Global High-Tech Value Chains: The Case of Telecommunications Systems Production in Estonia. Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics, No. 38. Tallinn: Tallinn University of Tehnology.
  • Walsh, V. 1988. Technology and Competitiveness of Small Countries: A Review. In: Freeman, C. and B-A. Lundvall (eds.), Small Countries Facing Technological Revolution. London: Pinter, 37-66.
  • Thorhallsson, B. 2000. The Administrative Working Procedures of Member States. In: B. Thorhallsson. The Role of Small States in the European Union. Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Vital, D. 2006 [1967]. The Inequality of States: A Study of the Small Power in International Relations. In: Ch. Ingebritsen, I. Neumann, S. Gstöhl and J. Beyer (eds.). Small States in International Relations. Seattle: University of Washington Press, Reykjavik: University of Iceland Press.
  • Thorallsson, B. and A. Wivel. 2006. Small States in the European Union: What Do We Know and What Would We Like to Know? Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Vol. 19, No. 4.
  • Hey, J.A.K. 2002. Luxembourg’s Foreign Policy: Does Small Size Help or Hinder? Innovation, Vol. 15, No. 3.
  • Ernst, D and K. Linsu. 2002. Global Production Networks, Knowledge Diffusion and Local Capability Formation. Research Policy, 31.
  • Kattel, R., T. Kalvet and T. Randma-Liiv. 2010. Small States and Innovation. In: R. Steinmetz and A. Wivel (eds.) Small States in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. Aldershot: Ashgate, 65-86.
  • Handel, M.I. 1981. Weak States in the International System. London: F. Cass.
  • Moses, J. 2000. Open States in the Global Economy. The Political Economy of Small State Macroeconomic Management. Hampshire: Macmillan.
  • Andersen E.S. and B-A. Lundvall. Small National Systems of Innovation Facing Technological Revolutions: An Analytical Framework. In: Freeman, C. & Lundvall, B. 1988. Small Countries Facing Technological Revolution. London.
  • Kattel, R. and R. Anton. 2004. The Estonian Genome Project and Economic Development. Trames. 8(58/53), 1/2

Lecturer(s): Senior Research fellow Tarmo Kalvet & professor Tiina Randma-Liiv

Educational methods: The teaching method is a mixture of lectures and student seminar presentations. Within two weeks eight 2-hour lectures and two 3-hour seminars are held (all starting at evening times, 5:15 PM). For every lecture students are delivered with topical reading materials to be worked through beforehand. During the lectures the key issues of a topic (small state peculiarities, statehood and public administration, politics and policy-making, international relations, economic systems) are presented and discussed. For the seminars students are expected to present cases orally on the subjects already covered and analyze them by drawing parallels between theoretical standpoints and empirical findings (cases). After the course students are expected to present a paper (5-7 pages long essay) on course-related topic (could be a part of a master`s thesis).

Evaluation method: Evaluation based on written exam on open questions (50% of a grade), participation in seminars (30% of a grade) and a group assignment (20% of a grade).


Some examples of thesis topics

  • Fiscal policy, budgeting and planning in small states;
  • The impact of financial policy on innovation process;
  • The risks and benefits of a development strategy based on external financing;
  • The impact of technology and techno-economic paradigms on small states (specifically, on education and the university system; on parliamentary elections and the constitutional framework via e- and m-voting and e-governance generally; or on mobility of economic activities (e.g. outsourcing) and company-level strategies);
  • The role of the diversity of economic activities and occupations in innovation;
  • Small Country ‘Squeeze’: technology and skills gap between large and small countries;
  • The role and the nature of social capital in small states;
  • Public-private partnership, procurement and innovation;
  • The impact of public sector reform on innovation, R&D and education policies in small states.

Techno-economic paradigms, financial fragility and development, the characteristics of CEE countries, e-governance, administration and innovation, role and impact of structural funds on innovation, the impact of public procurement on innovation, and economic development and innovation in small states is general indication of possible topics to be covered by theses.

Staff members who may act as thesis supervisors

Prof. Rainer Kattel: Innovation and development in CEE; Public administration and innovation; Innovation policy; Biotechnology; Smart Cities.

Prof. Wolfgang Drechsler: The role of public management and the state in innovation and economic development; Nano-technology, E-governance; Techno-determinism and critique of technology.

Research fellow Erkki Karo: Public sector reforms; Governance of research, development and innovation; Eastern European catching-up process

Professor Robert Krimmer: E-governance: internet-based voting; open government; open/big data; m-Governance; Web 2.0 and governance; e-Security, e-Health, e-Learning; Smart Cities.

Senior Research fellow Tarmo Kalvet: ICT; E-governance and E-services; Small States; Business Models and Innovation; Innovation policy; Innovation systems approach.

Research fellow Margit Kirs: Innovation and industrial policy; Technology governance; Business models in high-tech sectors (biotechnology).

Web sites

More information regarding Technology Governance program, Tallinn University of Technology, and supportive services for international students may be obtained from the following websites:

Local ESST Website
Technology Governance on Facebook
Tallinn university of Technology

Coordinator of specialization

Egert Juuse, PhD
Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance
Akadeemia tee 3
12618 Tallinn Estonia
E-mail: egert.juuse@ttu.ee Phone: +372 620 2657

Olga Mikheeva (officer in international relations)
Phone: +372 620 2651
E-mail: olga.mikheeva@ttu.ee