From triple to quadruple helix: The role of society/citizens/customers in innovation

2018 edition

Huong Thu Nguyen

Triple helix is the core concept of innovation developed since mid of 1990s where the collaborations among three helices of university, industry and government are encouraged. It aims to enhance knowledge transfer, products and services development, therefore, lead to positive impacts on innovation and regional development. Having such top-down approach, the triple helix model has been recently questioned about its effectiveness. It is argued by some authors that the model does not ensure a long-term sustainable growth due to the lack of society’s involvement.

Based on the concern above, the purpose of developing quadruple helix is adding to the triple helix model a fourth helix that serves as the representative of societal needs, and thus explicitly include society  in the process of knowledge creation. The advantage of this model is the combination of both top-down and bottom-up approaches. Bottom-up initiatives strengthened by top-down programs are believed to lead to the most successful results.

Quadruple helix of innovation receives increasing attention with a number of studies so far. Accordingly, various definitions have been named as quadruple helix model proposing different types for the fourth helix, for example, civil society, citizens or customers. Hence, further research is significant to understand about the nature, in turn provide definitions and its implications in innovation activities.

The primary purpose of the research is to develop the concept of quadruple helix model in innovation. First of all, recognizing the fourth helix (society/ citizens/ customers) with its role in innovation is necessary. From there, a comprehensive understanding of quadruple helix would be proposed with possible implications in innovation. To reinforce the research, a comparative analysis of the quadruple helix versus other innovative models is expected. Finally, the research should reveal the key factors to the success of the model, and an evaluation framework, inspired by the exploration of multiple case studies in Europe and over the world.