The aim of the paper is to discuss the issue of innovation from the perspective of relevant sociological interpretative frameworks. The discussion starts with an assessment of evolutionary and institutional economic studies of innovation, which have contributed to a better understanding of the role of institutional and social factors in the formation of innovation resources and the performance of (innovating) firms and (innovating) nation states. The concepts of a national innovation system (Nelson), the learning firm (Lundvall) and the social system of production (Hollingsworth) are discussed to explain this contribution in more detail. They indicate a set of socio-cultural factors and circumstances that can be identified not only as implications of the techno-economic power of innovation but also as the autonomous factors that shape the performance of innovating actors. The EU Lisbon strategy is faced with a similar challenge: to balance the issue of competitiveness with environmental issues and social cohesion. The current debate over fulfilling its goals (the Kok report) offers good arguments as to how techno-economic and socio-cultural resources of innovation could be theorised and governed. In this article, selected methodological frameworks and databases (EIS 2005, EXIS) are applied in an analysis of the social forms and structures of national innovation systems. The final discussion refers both to the relevant concepts (the learning economy, knowledge societies, reflexive modernisation) and the analytical data in order to suggest a concept of innovation, which understands both economic and social factors to be productive resources of current innovation performance. The suggested interpretative framework is used to assess the structural dependencies and challenges of the innovation system in the Czech Republic.