The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Innovation
Peter Sheehan and George Messinis

Innovation is widely held to be central to competitiveness and growth in the modern economy. For a single firm, innovation can be defined as 'applying ideas new to the firm in products, processes, services, organisation, management or marketing' (Bryant 1998). In line with the international literature, this definition includes 'little ideas' and unsophisticated techniques.The term is also sometimes used in a broader sense. For example, it has been suggested that innovation is 'any new way of doing the myriad of things that make up a business' (Banks 2000).

The latter definition allows for changes in a firm's activities that do not involve the systematic introduction of new ideas. Staff reductions, management restructuring or variations in labour intensity are all changes that do not imply innovation. In this paper we follow international usage and reserve 'innovation' for the process of systematically applying ideas new to the firm, referring to the broader process simply as change.

It is important also to note that innovation is not immediately identifiable with particular inputs or outputs. Substantial spending on innovation may not in fact lead to much actual innovation, and in some cases innovation can be low cost. On the other side, aggregate outcomes, such as higher productivity growth, can be due to various causes and not necessarily to innovation as defined here. Thus the identification and measurement of innovation must be approached with considerable care.

These points are directly relevant to a current central debate about the Australian economy. One view notes the striking success in terms of growth in GDP and productivity during the 1990s and attributes this to structural change and reform that has occurred over the past decade. An alternative view maintains that Australia is falling behind major countries in terms of innovation, and that this is having serious economic consequences. Not only are these two competing views reflected in the literature, but they were also central to the debate between the two major political parties at the 2001 federal election. We return to this issue below.

Following the international literature, Australian research has adopted the systems approach to the study of innovation, seeking to understand the role that business, research agencies and institutions play in developing processes and networks that are most conducive to knowledge growth and innovation. Considerable effort has been made to assess Australia's innovation capabilities, to identify the key barriers to, and

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The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Contributors x
  • Preface and Acknowledgements xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Economics 15
  • Chapter 1 - Privatisation 17
  • References 27
  • Chapter 2 - Competition Policy and Regulation 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 3 - Economics and the Environment 45
  • References 57
  • Chapter 4 - Health Economics 60
  • References 70
  • Chapter 5 - Immigration 74
  • References 87
  • Chapter 6 - Labour Market and Industrial Relations 94
  • References 113
  • Chapter 7 - Income Distribution and Redistribution 118
  • References 134
  • Chapter 8 - Taxation 138
  • References 148
  • Chapter 9 - Innovation 153
  • References 165
  • Chapter 10 - International Trade and Industry Policies 168
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - The Macro Economy 186
  • Notes 199
  • References 200
  • Chapter 12 - Money and Banking 203
  • References 216
  • Part 2 - Political Science 221
  • Chapter 13 - Political Theory 223
  • References 231
  • Chapter 14 - Federalism and the Constitution 234
  • References 246
  • Chapter 15 - Legislative Institutions 249
  • References 260
  • Chapter 16 - Political Parties and Electoral Behaviour 266
  • References 283
  • Chapter 17 - Electoral Systems 287
  • References 302
  • Chapter 18 - Gender Politics 305
  • References 319
  • Chapter 19 - Interest Groups and Social Movements 323
  • References 339
  • Chapter 20 - Environmental Policy and Politics 345
  • References 355
  • Chapter 21 - International Relations 358
  • Notes 368
  • References 369
  • Chapter 22 - Political Economy 374
  • References 391
  • Chapter 23 - Public Policy and Public Administration 406
  • References 422
  • Part 3 - Sociology 431
  • Chapter 24 - Patterns of Social Inequality 433
  • References 457
  • Chapter 25 - Families and Households 462
  • References 477
  • Chapter 26 - Gender Perspectives 480
  • References 493
  • Chapter 27 - Work and Employment 499
  • Notes 511
  • References 512
  • Chapter 28 - Crime and Deviance 518
  • References 531
  • Chapter 29 - Health and Illness 536
  • References 552
  • Chapter 30 - Population 554
  • References 569
  • Chapter 31 - Race, Ethnicity and Immigration 573
  • Notes 585
  • References 586
  • Chapter 32 - Urban and Regional Sociology 590
  • Reference 598
  • Chapter 33 - Rural Sociology 604
  • Reference 619
  • Chapter 34 - Religion and Spirituality 626
  • Reference 632
  • Chapter 35 - Cultural Studies, Australian Studies and Cultural Sociology 638
  • References 651
  • Chapter 36 - Sociological Theory 654
  • References 664
  • Chapter 37 - Social Policy and Social Welfare 666
  • References 674
  • Author Index 678
  • Subject Index 696
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