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Productivity, Innovation and Knowledge in Services

New Economic and Socio-Economic Approaches

Edited by Jean Gadrey and Faïz Gallouj

Written by some of the most distinguished authors in the field, this book elucidates the critical and complex relationships between services, production and innovation. The authors discuss the limitations of current theories to explain service productivity and innovation, and call for a conceptual re-working of the ways in which these are measured. They also highlight the important role of knowledge in the production system and in doing so make an important contribution to a key debate which has emerged in the social sciences in recent years.
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Chapter 8: Service Innovation: Towards a Tertiarization of Innovation Studies

Ian Miles


8. Services innovation: towards a tertiarization of innovation studies Ian Miles INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the current state of play in the study of services innovation. This field of study, after a long period of neglect, has attracted the attention of a large number of serious scholars in recent years. However, their work remains fragmented and disciplinary and national ‘flavours’ of study are still striking. The growing volume of work demonstrates clearly, first, that services do innovate, both technologically and organizationally. There are (naturally) substantial differences in innovation propensity and style across different classes of service firm and sector, and indicators of R&D and (technological) innovative effort do suggest that on average service firms are rather less active than comparable manufacturers. But to characterize all services as ‘supplier-driven’ is inappropriate: many are extremely proactive. Much of the analysis from services researchers has stressed the specificities of services – though equally there is much attention to the heterogeneity of service firms and industries. Despite the variety of services, services innovation does appear to frequently display features that suggest that our understandings and indicators of innovation, being manufacturing-centred, are missing significant phenomena and processes. However, this does not mean that a sharp demarcation thus needs to be drawn between services and manufacturing innovation. The ‘tertiarization’ of innovation studies referred to in the title stems from the view that services innovation has great implications for studying innovation right across the economy. This has several elements: one is that many of the ‘service’ activities...

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