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    Turkey’s relative performance of innovation

    Fatih Özatay, PhD17 March 2012 - Okunma Sayısı: 1133

    The new seating and voting order the Education Commission adopted will definitely contribute to Turkey’s position in the 2012 innovation index.

    I gossiped on the current account deficit for the last two commentaries. Today, I want to comment on a “deep” aspect about the current account deficit. I am planning to hit two birds with a stone, associating today’s topic with the 4+4+4 education bill the Parliament is currently negotiating. The subject is innovation, a concept for which we do not have a proper Turkish word. Maybe, it is for a reason, which the following discussion might reveal. Yes, why not? 

    A noteworthy report

    The subject of innovativeness is correlated with the 4+4+4 formula in two ways. First, according to the media, is the seating order of the Education Commission at the Parliament and the new voting method brought into action taking the advantage of this seating order. We have to admit that we are faced with a highly significant and successful innovativeness story. The second one is related directly to the quality of the education system in Turkey.

    I believe the correlation between current account deficit and innovation is also as clear as crystal. For example, it is evident which export goods are indispensible for Turkey, right? Advanced and high-tech machinery and intermediate goods are indispensible. What does Turkey predominantly export, instead? Automotive, textile and iron-steel products. The highest-technology sector among these is automotive, which belongs to the medium-tech product group.

    I worked in the State Planning Organization (SPO) some years ago. My colleague from the SPO, Mr. Mustafa Dönmez, sends me emails occasionally, to inform me about noteworthy reports. The latest one was about one which investigated the level of innovativeness in European Union member states. When I was kid, I used to watch football games with my friends. The “harshest” cheer we said to the opponent team was “We look at the scoreboard and take a deep breath.” It appears; I had “decent” friends back then. On this occasion, let me salute my childhood friends in Erzincan, Ağrı and Konya.

    The latest report Mr. Dönmez sent also is an example of a naive cheer of this type. At least, the title of the report makes me feel that way: “Innovation Union Scoreboard.” It was prepared by the Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute, in line with the innovation targets of the European Union for 2020. The report assesses innovation on the basis of different indicators in order to enable international comparisons. 

    Turkey at the bottom

    Among these indicators are, the number of new doctorate graduates per 1000 population, percentage population aged 25-64 having completed tertiary education, scientific publications among the top 10% most cited publications worldwide as percentage of total scientific publications of the country, R&D expenditure in the public sector as percentage of GDP, R&D expenditure in the private sector as percentage of GDP, patents, medium and high-tech product exports as percentage share of total exports, knowledge-intensive services exports as percentage of total service exports, and license and patent revenues from abroad as percentage of GDP.

    The report makes a comparison on the basis of each of the above indicators and of an innovation index derived from those indicators. Index values are available for the years between 2007 and 2011. No surprises: Turkey is at the bottom of the list. Still, we have reasons to calm down: First, the pace of increase of Turkey’s index value is almost satisfactory. Second, the new seating and voting order the Education Commission adopted will definitely contribute to Turkey’s position in the 2012 innovation ranking.

    This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 17.03.2012