Innovation, Science, and Institutional Change

Innovation, Science, and Institutional Change

Innovation, Science, and Institutional Change

Innovation, Science, and Institutional Change

Synopsis

Innovation is central to the dynamics and success of organizations and society in the modern world, the process famously referred to by Schumpeter as 'gales of creative destruction'. This ambitious and wide ranging book makes the case for a new approach to the study of innovation. It is the editors' conviction that this approach must accomplish several objectives: it must recognise that innovation encompasses changes in organizations and society, as well as products andprocesses; it must be genuinely interdisciplinary and include contributes from economics, sociology, management and political science; It must be international, to reflect both different patterns or systems of innovation, and different research traditions; and it must reflect the fundamental changestaking place in science, research and knowledge creation at all levels. To this end they have gathered together a distinguished group of economists, sociologists, political scientists, and organization, innovation and institutional theorists to both assess current research on innovation, and to set out a new research agenda. This has been achieved through carefulplanning and development of the project, and also through the ensuing structure of the book which looks in turn at Product and Process Innovation (perhaps the best established focus of existing research on innovation), Scientific Research (assessing the changing character of basic research andscience policy); Knowledge Dynamics in Context (encompassing organizational learning in all its aspects); and Institutional Change (an analysis of the institutional context that can shape, enable and constrain innovation). This carefully integrated and wide ranging book will be an ideal reference point for academics and researchers across the Social Sciences interested in all dimensions of innovation - be they in the field of Management Studies, Economics, Organization Studies, Sociology, Political Science and Science and Technology Studies.

Excerpt

Empirical studies of the effects of organizational and environmental factors on product and process innovations are reviewed in this chapter. Our review shows that, for most determinants, the results across the studies are mixed and inconclusive. It also shows that most determinants do not differentiate between product and process innovations; when they do, the difference is more of degree than of direction of the effect. These findings suggest that there may be contextual or methodological conditions under which the effects of the determinants can vary, or that product and process innovations are complementary, not distinct. To help develop robust theories of product and process innovations in the future, we discuss the importance of investigating the influence of several moderators: industry type, radicalness of innovation, and phases of product life-cycle.

Innovations in products and in processes have been studied since Schumpeter (1911) first distinguished them. Scholars have posited that these two kinds of technological change are central to the ability of firms to create competitive advantage and to play an important role in economic growth (Jones and Tang 2000; Nelson and Winter 1982). Product and process innovations stimulate the growth and productivity not only of the firms that develop them, but also of other firms that adopt and use them. Thus their impact extends to the economic sector and thence to the nation and its international competitiveness and balance of trade (Meeus and Hage, this volume). The dichotomy between product and process innovations has been used to explain the business cycle (decline versus expansion), the product cycle (development versus maturity), employment, productivity, firm management, and appropriability and imitation (Archibugi et al. 1994). The importance of these two types of industrial innovation cannot be overstated.

According to Edquist et al. (2001), different patterns of diffusion of product and process innovations in different contexts are the result of different determining factors: some factors may influence one type of innovation and not another; and the importance of the effect of a specific factor may differ across types (Lunn 1986; Cohen and Levin 1989). Therefore, an understanding of the factors that lead to product and process innovations would be useful for understanding the possible economic consequences of these innovation types. As Cabagnols and Le Bas (2002: 114) state, ‘If different types of innovation do not have the same . . .

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