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Innovation systems can be defined in a variety of ways: they can be national, regional, sectoral, or technological. They all involve the creation, diffusion, and use of knowledge. Systems consist of components, relationships among these, and their characteristics or attributes. The focus of this paper is on the analytical and methodological issues arising from various system concepts. There are three issues that stand out as problematic. First, what is the appropriate level of analysis for the purpose at hand?
Various researchers and policy analysts have made empirical studies of innovation systems in order to understand their current structure and trace their dynamics. However, policy makers often experience difficulties in extracting practical guidelines from studies of this kind. In this paper, we operationalize our previous work on a functional approach to analyzing innovation system dynamics into a practical scheme of analysis for policy makers. The scheme is based on previous literature and our own experience in developing and applying functional thinking.