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 25: Many Routes to Wealth Creation

G. M.P. Swann

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


In this chapter, I turn to a second essential implication of our analytical framework. In Chapter 6, we contrasted two visions of innovation and wealth creation. The first (Figure 6.1) was a framework with one main route to wealth creation. The second (Figures 6.2 and 6.4) was a framework where, at least in principle, there are a large number of possible routes to wealth creation. In view of what we have argued in Chapter 6 and seen in Part III, I am interested in the latter. MANY ROUTES It is helpful to have another look at Figure 6.4, which I have reproduced below, for convenience. It may help to think of this diagram as a road-map. It contains, on the left hand edge, the ‘motorway’ from business to marketplace to consumption and M-wealth creation as understood by business, and as shown in Figure 6.1. But it also shows all the many other routes that lead, eventually, to R-wealth creation. These routes may be narrower and more circuitous, but in aggregate, they can be very important – as we shall see later in this chapter. This roadmap metaphor is a useful one. Metaphorically speaking, big business is generally rather preoccupied with the motorway,1 but the minor routes can also make many important common innovation contributions to the creation of R-wealth.

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