The Ecological Opportunity
Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis
Chapter 8: Political Economy of Innovation and Sustainable Development
Jerry Courvisanos1 INTRODUCTION This chapter details the political aspects of innovation (PAI) thesis in Courvisanos (2009a) and uses this approach to examine the problem of why it is difficult to shift away from the current ecologically unsustainable technological system. The aim is to identify within capitalism the ‘political aspects’ that enhance, but also undermine the positive transformational power of innovation policies. As such, this chapter follows the approach of Kalecki (1943) that identified within capitalism the ‘political aspects’ that enhanced and undermined the positive transformational power of Keynesian full employment policies. That analysis provided the basis for heterodox economists to analyse post-World War Two economic policies from a political economy perspective. Similarly, this chapter provides a heterodox theoretical analysis of an economic policy framework that identifies what business implements as innovation strategies and governments support as innovation policies, in the context of providing concrete benefits to a community. The Australian political economy milieu (as at 2011) has been exemplary of how the PAI approach can be used to appreciate the undermining of the transformational power of innovation towards an ecologically sustainable economy. Deeper empirical applications of the PAI approach can be developed through detailed industry case studies.2 In this analysis, the issue is not the technical creativity and knowledge that leads to invention. As Tidd et al. (2005, p. 92) notes, invention denotes the ‘first combination of ideas around a concept’. Thus, there is the technical conception to solve a problem (for example the light bulb was invented by Humphry...
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