Common Innovation
Show Less

Common Innovation

How We Create the Wealth of Nations

G. M.P. Swann

Common innovation is the contribution of ordinary people to innovation and the wealth of nations. Innovation and wealth creation are not merely the monopoly of business. While Schumpeter described business innovation as a, ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’, common innovation is more a, ‘gentle and benign breeze’. This book analyses some illustrations of the destructive side of business innovation, and provides numerous examples of the ‘benign breeze’ of common innovation. It builds on the pioneering work of von Hippel, but takes that a step further. In common innovation, the ordinary citizen is centre stage and business can be quite peripheral
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 16: Consumption and the Home

G. M.P. Swann


In this chapter, we simply survey some of the forms of common innovation that are found in the home. This is not an exhaustive list, and does not need to be, for I am sure that the reader can fill in the gaps for him/herself. COMMON INNOVATION IN THE KITCHEN A good place to start a discussion of common innovation is in the domestic kitchen. One of the simplest and most common forms of common innovation is found there. The subtitle of Valerio’s (1988) cook-book captures this perfectly: I piatti ricchi della cucina povera.1 The creative but impecunious cook turns ordinary and inexpensive ingredients into a delicious and nutritious meal. Note that it is the common innovation of the cook in the domestic kitchen that adds this value – not the investments of agribusiness, nor the innovations of the food industry, nor the innovation of the supermarkets. This does not in the least deny the importance of high quality raw materials. Nor does it deny that there are innovations in the food supply chain. Nor does it deny that ‘rich dishes’ can also be created by professional cooks in restaurants. And nor does it deny that the domestic cook may be guided by recipes from cook-books, television programmes, and so on. While this example is good place to start, some may think this is utterly trivial.2 Certainly, if we compare the innovative effort expended in a single domestic kitchen with the innovative effort involved in creating a new generation of personal computer or a new generation of airliner, then the former does seem very modest indeed. But that is not the appropriate calculation: it ranks innovations in terms of their technological complexity and cost, rather than their contribution to R-wealth creation.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.