New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Louise Earl and Fred Gault
Chapter 8: Innovation in Human/Social Guise
* Susan A. McDaniel INTRODUCTION Innovation, in popular parlance, is aeons old – as old as humanity itself. Archaeologists, anthropologists and historians have found that some individuals in most societies, and many societies themselves, were always thinking that there must be a better way. Winnie-the-Pooh thought exactly that, as Christopher Robin dragged him by the arm down the stairs, bump, bump, bumping. Innovation, or the action of bringing in new methods or making changes, is inherently human (Fagerberg 2004, p. 3). Indeed, without continuous, relentless innovation, humans would still be living in caves and trees and eating roots and berries. Yet, the study of innovation has, at least in contemporary times, been somewhat channelled, perhaps as much by policy as by disciplinary focus, to the study of technical change or the mechanical insertion of technical novelty into production (Fontan, Klein and Tremblay 2004). Innovation is further viewed, particularly from the perspective of policy, which has shaped the research paradigm and agenda, as ‘the process of taking new ideas eﬀectively and proﬁtably through to satisﬁed customers’ (McAdam, Armstrong and Kelly 1998, p. 140). Innovation studies have become largely the purview of technology experts and, in application, of management analysts. That this is hyperbole to make a point is evidenced by many of the chapters in this volume, which take innovation one step beyond where it has been in recent years. In this chapter, innovation is viewed from a step further back, as an astronaut might see the earth from space....