Towards Innovation with Care
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Lars Fuglsang
Chapter 5: The Public Library Between Social Engineering and Innovation with Care
Lars Fuglsang INTRODUCTION How can innovation be organized and planned in the public sector? This chapter discusses four frameworks (or modes) of innovation each of which has consequences for the organization of innovation. The four frameworks are: entrepreneurial innovation, institutional innovation, open innovation and strategic reﬂexive innovation. After introducing these, the chapter goes on to investigate the framework for innovation in a particular domain of innovation, namely the Danish public library system. In this case it is argued that the framework for innovation is changing from the institutional mode to open innovation. The chapter argues that open innovation requires a careful and imaginative balancing of two forces of innovation: variation and selection (see Nelson and Winter, 1977). This implies that variation and selection become the important mechanisms of organizational change rather than, for example, homogenization (as implied by DiMaggio and Powell, 1983). First, open innovation creates a need to take care of and incorporate many diﬀerent ideas that work in a speciﬁc domain such as the library. Second, open innovation requires a strategic ﬁeld where some opinions and ideas are selected and scaled up as being, in some senses, more relevant, eﬀective or important than others. “Care” means the attempt to maneuver carefully and imaginatively between these two sides of innovation that otherwise can pull in diﬀerent directions. The chapter argues that one relevant way in which selection can be carefully combined with variation in the case of today’s public library is in the shape...
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