Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries
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Innovation in Low-Tech Firms and Industries

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson

It is a general understanding that the advanced economies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation into knowledge-based societies. There is a firm belief that this is based on the development of high-tech industries. Correspondingly, in this scenario low-tech sectors appear to be less important. A critique of this widely held belief is the starting point of this book. It is often overlooked that many of the current innovation activities are linked to developments inside the realm of low-tech. Thus the general objective of the book is to contribute to a discussion concerning the relevance of low-tech industries for industrial innovativeness in the emerging knowledge economy.
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Chapter 2: How to Grasp Innovativeness of Organizations: Outline of a Conceptual Tool

Gerd Bender


1 Gerd Bender INTRODUCTION Sometimes persistent errors can be fruitful in a way. Take the linear model of innovation as an example. It is something of a conceptual zombie. Though reputed to be dead for at least two decades it still inspires some innovation research and the bulk of innovation policies. At the core of this model is the understanding that there is a sequence from scientific research via experimental development of new technology to innovative, marketable products. If this was true, technological innovations in nonresearch-intensive industries – low-tech industries according to the conventional classification (Hatzichronoglou, 1997) – would by definition be derivational phenomena. Innovators in these sectors would only use what others produce, that is to say, live on the pool of knowledge fed from – in the last instance – basic research. This is of course not true. Innovations are not necessarily based on scientific research or even on scientific knowledge; apparently most of them are non-science-based innovations. But there is nevertheless something fruitful in this false conception: it calls our attention to processes of interchange and transformations. Innovation is usually a distributed process. Some actors take up knowledge and other building blocks produced by other actors and transform both according to their own needs, aims and imaginations. The problem with the linear model is that it paints a far too simple picture of this complex entanglement of diverse players in space and time. Technological progress and innovation – taking up a picture used by Gibbons et al....

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