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Accepted Paper:

Rethinking Innovation as a Political Process of Development  
Smita Srinivas (The Open University) Theodoros Papaioannou (The Open University)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, we argue that the neo-institutionalist view of innovation as a value-neutral process requires closer attention. Can innovation be abstracted from its social and political bases? We answer by re-thinking innovation and governance as both historical and contextual processes.

Paper long abstract:

Since the reconstruction of Joseph Schumpeter's view of innovation as a primary driver of capitalist economic development and the subsequent formation of national innovation systems (NIS) theory in the early 1990s that can be described as neo-Schumpeterian policy tool (Lundvall, 1992; Nelson, 1990, 1992, 1993; Freeman, 1995; Freeman and Soete, 1997; Edquist and Johnson, 1997; Edquist, 1997), there has been a continuous attempt to analyse the emergence of new technological products and processes in institutional terms. However, much of this neo-institutionalism has positioned innovation as if it was a value-neutral process of supply and demand, taking place in a free market and having nothing to do with politics and the state. In this paper, we will argue that such value neutrality requires closer attention. The reason being that some neo-Schumpeterian thinkers do appear to acknowledge that capitalism itself is not a smooth and neutral process of socio-biological evolution but rather an uneven, value-bound and dynamic process of technological change. The relationship between the vital dynamism of such approach to technological change and the context of its power relations and value conflicts deserves further critical analysis. Under what conditions are systemic interactions between institutions and actors potentially universalisable? Can the theory of innovation be abstracted from its social and political bases? We aim to address these questions by re-thinking innovation and its governance as predominantly social and political processes which are both historical and contextual. In doing so, we will draw out implications for innovation policy and practice.

Panel T086
Rethinking innovation and governance
  Session 1 Thursday 1 September, 2016, -