Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Contribution to innovation theory

This is described more fully here:

We now know that:
- Innovation is a qualitative change of system behaviour. Some marketable products and services may consolidate innovations; many do not - they merely sustain or intensify pre-existing behaviours in a changing environment.

- Many de facto innovations have no impact on growth and competitiveness. Some may actually reduce competition - the reform of the CAP to reduce subsidy and take land out of productive use, for example.

- Innovation is not caused by large-scale investment in technical research, but by small-scale changes of perception at the pioneering stage that overcome inbuilt inertia, pushing a system past its tipping point.

- Highly competitive environments often have more systemic inertia than less competitive environments. This is so, both in ecological and social systems. In general, the more competitive a system is, the harder it will be to consolidate an innovation. The contrast is that between a tropical rain-forest and an intensively managed wheat-field; the diversity of small retailers in the centre of an early twentieth century market town and the handful of supermarkets we see dotted around them today.

- Systemic inertia, coupled with the role of small-scale adaptive potential as the ultimate source of all innovation, makes it very hard to establish a Command Economy for innovation. There are stringent “negative feedback” control mechanisms in place that create laws of diminishing returns. It is almost impossible to drive innovation from the centre. Highly regulated, deeply stratified societies, though intensely competitive, are seldom effective innovators.

Over-regulation creates social exclusion by suppressing cultural diversity, punishing pioneers. It tends to block innovation by locking societies into intensification or entrenchment. In extreme cases this can lead to a co-evolutionary catastrophe.

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University of Newcastle upon Tyne
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU Newcastle
United Kingdom
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