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Institutional Change in the Pursuit of a Quebec System of Innovation

Mastroeni, M

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management   10 (8)

October 2011

This paper presents a two-tier approach to studying institutional change, where institutions are differentiated as either ‘instrumental’ or ‘defining.’ Instrumental institutions are formal institutions made up of a set of rules, regulations and practices meant to facilitate economic or political activities. These are in contrast to defining institutions which are made up of norms, values and goals that help to define a society’s culture and socio-economic goals. Important change is driven by political actors at the instrumental level. This type of change is incremental, and not only linked to occasional crisis. Instrumental institutions are imperfect tool sets which political actors alter to meet socio-economic goals. Actors use knowledge obtained from information on institutional performance in their own jurisdiction, or best practices in other jurisdictions to implement change in their own institutional context. This paper will describe finance in the high technology sector to illustrate how instrumental institutions such as rules, regulations, practices, and bodies are created or altered by political actors to meet long held socio-economic goals. The case of Quebec in the early millennium will be used to illustrate the issues discussed, and how changes to the publicly-owned organization Société de Innovatech was part of efforts to change the instrumental system of venture finance in the province.