Accepted paper:

Disruptive innovation & the idea of technology

Authors:

Darryl Cressman (Maastricht University)

Paper short abstract:

As a concept, disruptive innovation strongly resonates with a number of different sociotechnical futures. In this presentation, I will examine how these contested, and at times incommensurable, political and socio-economic visions of disruptive innovation share a similar idea of technology.

Paper long abstract:

Disruptive innovation has captured the contemporary technological imagination. From its obscure origins in management theory, it has become one of the concepts used to envision a future in which networked digital technologies and platforms are endowed with the capability to transform what are seen as anachronistic and inefficient industries and institutions. As a concept, disruptive innovation strongly resonates with a number of different sociotechnical futures while still maintaining an ambiguity, or ambivalence, towards any one particular future. Besides being a useful policy tool for neoliberal proponents of deregulation and market expansion, disruptive innovation is used to promote circular economies while also being invoked by critical social theorists who use it to predict the future of automation and labour and the emergence of a post-capitalist political economy. In this presentation, I will examine how these contested, and at times incommensurable, political and socio-economic visions of disruptive innovation share a similar idea of technology. Drawing upon discourses of disruptive innovation from management theory, institutional policies, and critical social theory reveals a shared idea of technology that prioritizes the (imagined) transformative power of new and emerging artifacts and digital platforms independent of embedded power relations. The consequence of this imagined future, I argue, is the reification of old and unchanging sociotechnical relations that cannot easily be transformed by disruptive artifacts or processes.

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Stream:
Conflict, dissolution, contest
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet