Social Innovations, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

Social Innovations, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

Making Sense of Structural Adjustment Processes in Industrial Sectors, Regions and Societies

Edited by Timo J. Hämäläinen and Risto Heiskala

This book examines the nature of social innovation processes which determine the economic and social performance of nations, regions, industrial sectors and organizations.

Prefatory Chapter: Institutions and Social Innovation

W. Richard Scott

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


W. Richard Scott Institutions again matter! After decades of denial, oversight and misspecification – under labels varying from behaviorism to individualism to neoclassical economics extending for many decades well into the twentieth century – social scientists have rediscovered the pivotal role played by institutions in social life. Institutional arguments are once again being formulated across the social sciences – by anthropologists, economists, social historians, management scholars, political scientists and sociologists. Coase, Commons, Durkheim, Marx, Weber and Veblen are again being read and their insights reclaimed and renewed. And institutional approaches are being crafted to examine social processes and structures across a full spectrum of levels of analysis ranging from games and groups to organizations, organizational populations, organizational fields, sectors, societies and transnational systems. While the reach of institutions is wide, in the last two decades interest and research attention have been concentrated at more macro levels. Fueled by globalization fever, much attention has been devoted to rapidly increasing levels of international trade and economic interdependence. Seemingly, everyone is talking about globalization. Some accounts imply that we are all trapped on a ‘run-away world’ – that we are unwilling passengers on ‘a very fast train without drivers’ fueled by market forces, weakening state boundaries and technological breakthroughs. Everyone is not wrong. We inhabit an increasingly interdependent planet, but one I, together with the editors and contributors to this volume, believe is amenable to analysis and to intervention. As Guillén (2001b) reminds us, globalization forces have been at work for a long time, and...