What Is Innovation?

Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 25 (1):72-96 (2021)
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Abstract

In this article, I reflect on the nature of innovation to lay the groundwork for a philosophy of innovation. First, I contrast the contemporary techno-economic paradigm of innovation with the work of Joseph Schumpeter. It becomes clear that Schumpeter’s work provides good reasons to question the techno-economic paradigm of innovation. Second, I contrast ‘innovation’ with ‘technology’ and identify five differences between the two concepts. Third, I reflect on the process-outcome dimension and the ontic-ontological dimension of innovation to develop four characteristics of the phenomenon of innovation. These four characteristics move beyond the techno-economic paradigm of innovation and highlight, first, the importance of its process dimension understood as ontogenesis, second, the outcome of innovation, and third, the importance of the ontological dimension of innovation, which is considered adjacent to its fourth characteristic, i.e., the ontic level of the outcome of innovation. After drawing conclusions, a research agenda for future research is provided.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research

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