Monday, 21 October 2013

1. Programme

 In this blog I aim to traverse the whole field of innovation, from definitions and forms, through antecedents, consequences, processes, organization, and networks, to business and government policy, and the political economy of innovation.

The blog is aimed at a wide, general audience. I will not take specialized knowledge for granted, avoiding technical terminology, and I will be sparse in footnotes and references to literature.

I look at both the competence side of innovation, in knowledge, skills, and technology, and the governance side, in managing risks and rivalry. In the innovation literature those two sides tend to be separated. Concerning governance there is transaction cost economics as a branch of economics, which is neglected in much of the management literature on innovation. However, it neglects some of the features recognized in that literature, such as radical uncertainty and the process nature of innovation. I also take an evolutionary view of innovation, as developed in neo-Schumpeterian economics. 

I take an interdisciplinary approach, employing insights from (different branches and schools of) economics, management science, sociology (especially concerning innovation networks), and cognitive science (concerning knowledge, learning and invention). Economics builds on rational choice, and the radical uncertainty of innovation yields an obstacle for treating it in those terms. 

Some of the deeper, underlying, more fundamental philosophical issues, concerning knowledge and truth, uncertainty, individual and society, ethics, stability and change, and creativity and art are treated in a philosophy blog ( that I started in July 2012 and continue to run in parallel to the present blog. 

As in the philosophy blog, I aim to present short pieces of text, of around 500 words, that can be read independently, in any order. However, they do build on each other, and I specify the connections for readers interested in them. 

I start with the customary distinction between invention, innovation and diffusion of innovations, between different fields of innovation (products, processes, markets, organization, institutions, ….), and different levels (incremental and radical) of innovation. I proceed with a discussion of entrepreneurship, and differences and complementarities between small and large firms, in competencies, outlook, motivation and conduct. Here one of the classic sources is the innovation economist Joseph Schumpeter.

Second, I consider knowledge, learning and invention. There, I use an embodied cognition view of knowledge and a pragmatist methodology (derived from American pragmatist philosophy). The crux of it is that views of the world are developed in interaction with it. Knowledge precedes action but is also formed in it. The underlying fundamental issues are treated in the philosophy blog.

Third, I consider organization: the role and functioning of organizations and networks, with due attention to issues of governance in combination with competence, and the underlying issues of power and dependence. The underlying philosophy of self and other, in collaboration and competition, is treated in the philosophy blog. In particular, this includes the nature and the working of trust. Concerning networks I consider the role of network structure and position for competence and governance.

Finally, I consider innovation policy and the political economy of innovation. This includes the consideration of institutions, societal systems in which organizations operate, and political processes. Here I employ a discussion of markets that is (or will be) included in the philosophy blog.

The blog allows for comments from readers, and I encourage readers to use that facility. I will respond to any comments made.

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