Chapter 4: Innovation: From Schumpeter to the Knowledge Economy
Knut Ingar Westeren Introduction Innovation as an important part of social development has been studied and debated for more than a hundred years. It is not easy to give a comprehensive view of the debate since there have been many different points of departure. The first purpose of this chapter is to discuss some highlights from the conceptual discussions about innovation. One reason for doing this is to investigate if we can find some lines of thought that are relevant to one of today’s most challenging discussions regarding the relationship between knowledge and innovation. The other purpose of this chapter is to present new empirical research where we have been investigating innovation and knowledge at the company level. Bringing the conceptual and empirical investigations together forces us to be specific in defining and the use of concepts. It is not enough just to talk about links between knowledge and innovations – the aim in the empirical part of the chapter is to be more specific. How can we define a process innovation in a company and how can knowledge and other factors that contribute to (or prevent) innovations be operationalized? These questions must be discussed before one can analyse relationships between innovations and explaining factors. Highlights from the conceptual and theoretical discussion of innovation Comments on Schumpeter A discussion of the innovation concept often starts with Joseph A. Schumpeter, an economist, mathematician and social analyst working in the first half of the 1900s. Schumpeter wanted to address the big questions and...
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