Common Innovation

Common Innovation

How We Create the Wealth of Nations

G. M.P. Swann

Common innovation is the contribution of ordinary people to innovation and the wealth of nations. Innovation and wealth creation are not merely the monopoly of business. While Schumpeter described business innovation as a, ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’, common innovation is more a, ‘gentle and benign breeze’. This book analyses some illustrations of the destructive side of business innovation, and provides numerous examples of the ‘benign breeze’ of common innovation. It builds on the pioneering work of von Hippel, but takes that a step further. In common innovation, the ordinary citizen is centre stage and business can be quite peripheral

Chapter 15: Introduction to Part III

G. M.P. Swann

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, organisational innovation


Part III of the book is concerned with common innovation (or C-innovation). It can be seen as a discussion of some of the large amounts of creativity that are not used in business, but in other areas of human activity to increase Rwealth and wellbeing. Each chapter in Part III examines common innovation in one of the categories identified in Part I (Chapter 6). Each chapter starts either with a sketch of a few examples of common innovation in that context, or with a single longer case study. The reader should bear in mind the following points while reading these chapters. In each chapter, we can in principle divide the innovative activity into three components. If the chapter refers to common innovation in Y, where Y is one of the categories identified in Chapter 6 (consumption, natural environment, etc.), then the three components are: • common innovation that adds directly to Y • common innovation that exploits other categories (e.g. X) to enhance Y • common innovation that exploits activities in Y to enhance other categories (e.g. Z) So for example, Chapter 17 on common innovation in the natural environment, has three sections: • common innovation that adds directly to the natural environment • common innovation that exploits other categories (e.g. science) to enhance the natural environment • common innovation that exploits the natural environment to enhance other categories (e.g. education) The reader will see that this can lead to some duplication. For example, exploitation of the natural environment to enhance education could arise in two chapters: the chapter on the natural environment and the chapter on education. We have decided to leave this duplication, where it occurs, because it is essential that each chapter gives a full picture of common innovation in and around a given category.

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