Accepted paper:

Conceptualising the individual in the innovation discourse: implications for development

Author:

Andrea Jimenez (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

This work-in-progress research is exploring what happens when the individual in the innovation discourse is framed from a specific perspective of economic growth, and whether a broader perspective is needed to expand our understanding of the impact of innovation in the discourse around development.

Paper long abstract:

This work-in-progress research is exploring what happens when the individual in the innovation discourse is framed from a specific perspective of economic growth, and whether a broader perspective is needed to expand our understanding of the impact of innovation in development. It explores how, under a neoliberal paradigm, the individual is conceptualized as a homo Ĺ“conomicus, that is, rational, risk-taking individuals seeking profit maximization, leaving little considerations to social, cultural and institutional contexts of entrepreneurship. This has implications in the conceptualisation of the individual. For instance, in the development context, entrepreneurs are believed to not only seek to maximize their own wealth, but also empowerment and agency. This form of empowerment has an emphasis on individual rationalities and self-sufficiency (Altan-Olcay, 2014) Individuals therefore are expected to bear the responsibility to get themselves out of poverty, notwithstanding broader structural and institutional constraints. They are therefore either absent or treated as self-interested economic rational being, a "one-dimensional" view of the individual grounded in neoliberalism. We argue that a different conception of individual agency is needed to understand innovation. The theoretical framework is based in the Capability Approach, developed by Amartya Sen.

panel C15
When responsible innovation meets economic crisis: considering the possibilities of 'responsible stagnation'