Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Gry A. Alsos, Ulla Hytti and Elisabet Ljunggren
Chapter 1: Gender and innovation – an introduction
Innovation has become a buzzword in policy and industry as well as scientific discourses, seen as an important element in economic development, and for solving global challenges such as financial crisis, environmental strain, diseases and poverty. Innovation is put forward as a main factor to enhance economic growth in industries, regions and nations (Lundvall, 1992; Malecki, 2002; Malerba, 2002; Verspagen, 2005), and is also suggested to be important at the firm level to recreate and maintain competitive advantage over time. The early scholarly work on innovation includes the influential analysis of Schumpeter (1934), who looked at major innovations as driving economic development. Building on his work, innovation is still often defined as new combinations of production factors in the form of production of new goods or services, introduction of new production processes, the opening of new markets to new sources of raw materials and intermediates, and re-organization of an industry. Contemporary research on innovation is broad in scope and perspectives, including innovation processes within firms, as well as in local, regional or national innovation systems of firms, institutions and governmental bodies (Fagerberg, 2005). Recently, there has been a growing interest in social innovations and innovations taking place in the public sector. The gender issues of innovation are seldom discussed. One main reason for this deficit is that innovation research seems to lack analyses of where innovation takes place and, particularly, of who participates in innovation (Fagerberg et al., 2005).