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 17: Natural Environment

G. M.P. Swann

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


Chapter 16 was concerned with common innovation by an individual or a small group of individuals: the final consumer(s) in the home. This chapter is mainly concerned with common innovation by larger organisations – often public sector or third sector. There is an element in common but a difference in scale. Final consumers use common innovation to make a pleasant environment in their gardens, while the organisations of this chapter use common innovation to make a pleasant environment from much larger areas of land. While the examples of common innovation listed in the Chapter 16 needed little explanation because they are all so well known, we do need a more detailed explanation in this chapter. For that reason, I have chosen to examine a single case study of common innovation which I know very well. A CASE STUDY This case study describes how an old industrial site has been transformed into a nature reserve. It is true that nature, working without human intervention, would have made much of the transformation by itself. But the transformation has been directed and accelerated by human intervention. Attenborough Nature Reserve lies about seven kilometres south west of Nottingham. It occupies a long strip of land between the village of Attenborough and the River Trent – one of the three largest rivers in England. Originally, this land was wet meadow land by the River Trent. From early photographs, it appears that this landscape was very similar to the present landscape along other nearby stretches of the river.

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