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Thanos Fragkandreas

Thesis topic

When An Innovation System Does Not Pay Off: A critical Realist study on innovation and regional economic development anomalies


In his PhD thesis, Thanos re-examines one of the most fundamental assumptions in the literature of innovation studies, that of the significance of innovation to economic growth.  This assumption comprises the backbone of contemporary innovation studies. However, recent empirical evidence reveals that some of the most innovative regions in Europe present poor economic outcomes. The primary aim of Thanos' thesis is to develop a causal explanation for this intriguing observation. In this endeavour, a relatively new philosophical approach, that of Critical Realism, was employed as an ‘under-labourer’ for the development of a causal explanatory framework. This framework was in turn applied in the context of a case study region in Europe.

Research Interests

  • firm-level innovation failures
  • innovation-growth paradoxes (especially national and regional)
  • innovation systems
  • philosophy and methodology of economics and social sciences (especially naturalism and critical realism),
  • social capital and its relation to innovation and economic performance



  • PhD Management, Birkbeck, University of London
  • MRes Innovation Management and Technology Policy, Birkbeck, University of London
  • MA Management, London Metropolitan University
  • BA Business Studies, University of Huddersfield

Professional/Research Experience

Research Assistant, U-Know Project, 6th European Framework, Birckbeck, University of London


NESTA Innovation Studies Award 2008



  • Fragkandreas, T. (2011) Regional Innovation Performance in the European Union: Convergence or Divergence?, Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Fragkandreas, T. (2013) When Innovation Does Not Pay Off: Introducing the “European Regional Paradox”. European Planning Studies, 21(12): 2078-2086.
  • Fragkandreas, T. (2012) Reflections on Social Capital and Economic Performance. International Review of Sociology, 22(1):259-271

Papers in Progress

  • Fragkandreas, T. (2014a) Why Do Some Regional Innovation Systems Not Pay-Off? An Outline of a Critical Realist-Inspired Explanatory Framework.
  • Fragkandreas, T. (2014b) Towards An Explanatory Typology of Innovation-Growth Anomalies.
  • Fragkandreas T. and Herrmann-Pillath, C. (2014) Naturalism in Economics: A Philosophically-Inspired Assessment and Enrichment.

Conference Papers, Presentations & Research Seminars

  • Fragkandreas, T. (2013) When innovation does not pay-off: A tale of competitiveness in seven regions, Paper presented to the 42nd Annual Conference of the International Regional Science Association, British Irish Section, August 2013, Cambridge, UK.
  • Fragkandreas, T. (2011) A Critical Analysis of Brian Arthur's paper ''The Structure of Invention'', Discussion Group, Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck, University of London, November, London, UK.
  • Fragkandreas T. (2011) Is Critical Realism a philosophy in search of a method? Paper presented to the 14th Annual Conference of the International Association of Critical Realism, September, Oslo Norway.
  • Fragkandreas T. (2011) When Innovation does not pay-off: an intriguing observation from the European Regional Innovation Scoreboard, paper presented to the 14th Annual Conference of the International Association of Critical Realism, September, Oslo Norway.
  • Fragkandreas T. (2010) Reflections on Social Capital and Economic Performance, Research Seminar, Birkbeck, University of London, Department of Management, January, 2010, London, UK.
  • Fragkandreas T. and Larsen K. (2009) Social Capital and Economic Performance: Some Lessons From Farm Partnerships in Sweden, Paper presented to the international conference “Civil society, social capital and economic development” (Royal Institute of Technology, Jönköping International Business School), September, Stockholm, Sweden.

Teaching at Birkbeck

Associate lecturer for the following modules

  • Management Studies (UG)
  • Research Methods (PG)
  • Strategic Management (UG)

Personal Website


Thanos Fragkandreas