The Elgar Companion to Innovation and Knowledge Creation
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The Elgar Companion to Innovation and Knowledge Creation

Edited by Harald Bathelt, Patrick Cohendet, Sebastian Henn and Laurent Simon

This unique Companion provides a comprehensive overview and critical evaluation of existing conceptualizations and new developments in innovation research. It draws on multiple perspectives of innovation, knowledge and creativity from economics, geography, history, management, political science and sociology. The Companion brings together leading scholars to reflect upon innovation as a concept (Part I), innovation and institutions (Part II), innovation and creativity (Part III), innovation, networking and communities (Part IV), innovation in permanent spatial settings (Part V), innovation in temporary, virtual and open settings (Part VI), innovation, entrepreneurship and market making (Part VII), and the governance and management of innovation (Part VIII).
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Chapter 2: A conceptual history of innovation

Benoît Godin


Innovation is a concept that everyone understands spontaneously, or thinks they understand; that every theorist talks about and every government espouses. Yet, it has not always been so. For the last five hundred years, the concept innovation has been a dirty word. The history of the concept of innovation is an untold story. It is a story of myths and conceptual confusions. In this chapter, I study the ways in which thoughts on innovation of early modern society gave rise to innovation theory in the twentieth century. Namely, how, when and why a pejorative and morally connoted word shifted to a much-valued concept. I offer a history of the concept of innovation, going back to antiquity. A history that takes the use of the concept seriously: from polemical to instrumental to theoretical.

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