Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Who’s in Charge?

Peter W.B. Phillips

New technologies often appear to be beyond the control of any existing governing systems. This is especially true for transformative technologies such as information technologies, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. Peter Phillips examines in this book the deep governing structures of transformative technology and innovation in an effort to identify which actors can be expected to act when, under what conditions and to what effect. He analyzes the life cycles of an array of examples where converging technologies have created transformations and supervisory challenges.

Chapter 3: Innovation

Peter W.B. Phillips

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy


All innovation begins with creative ideas . . . creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the second. Amabile, et al.1 INTRODUCTION The challenge of getting a new idea into use is greater than many people realize. The ingenuity or creative spark to see a need and seek to fill it (what economist John Maynard Keynes called ‘the animal spirits’) is perhaps the genesis, but there is a long and often tortuous path to success. The story of the origin and evolution of the edible oilseed canola, sometimes called double-zero rapeseed or oilseed rape, illustrates the nature of innovation.2 Canola provides the third largest source of edible oils in the world. The name canola is given to two particular subspecies of rapeseed plants that exhibit well-defined oil and meal properties: self-pollinating Brassica napus L and the outcrossing Brassica rapa L. Since the Second World War, extensive research and development has transformed rapeseed into canola and positioned it as a premium edible oil crop. In one sense, the canola story does not involve anything that had not been thought of by Mendel, the father of modern plant breeding. The science of selective breeding to enhance input or output traits goes back to his oft-cited experiments with peas. Nevertheless, there were two periods in recent times where evolutionary and at times revolutionary breakthroughs in science and technology allowed a quantum leap in the development of the industry. The original transformation of...

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