Title: Innovation, a winning solution?

Authors: Sten-Olof Hansen, Jouko Wakonen

Addresses: Vaasa University, Woiffintie 34, 65200 Vaasa, Finland. Erksaar Ltd., World Trade Centre Turku, Veistamonaukio 1-3, 20100 Turku, Finland

Abstract: Ever since professor Joseph Schumpeter defined a cycle starting phenomenon that became established as innovation have societies as well as enterprises been on trails to find innovations. The definitional requirement of starting cycles was rightly interpreted as equal to success. This shortcut might have caused some confusion that is detectable in today|s wide and equivocal use of the term innovation. Definitional accuracy is a virtue itself. But it neither makes or breaks success and from success| point of view it might not even be interesting whether there is an unequivocal definition of innovation, it only seeks its own survival. The importance of discussing definition is justified by the conceptual change in the occurrence of innovation it is no longer a scientifically verifiable fact based on detected data, or that has become the more seldom employed dimension, but a future expectation. The latter receives increasing amounts of funding and is the core activity of large and small enterprises. Innovation is an activity attracting major interest particularly in Europe. The European Union has prepared for the adoption of an innovation programme which has gone through a wide review in all the Member States. The objectives inbound to this initiative are wide and comprehensive. They range from the old cliche of ||Europe lags behind|| to solving the unemployment problems in Europe. There is no doubt that the stakes are high in innovation. The overall weight of innovation is enough to justify any measures. That, however, is not the complete picture. Innovation as an activity, a solve-all serendipity has fundamental societal relevance beyond its expected results. The matter in point is financing or even direct support. It seems that societal financiers assume increasing responsibility for providing means for ||innovative|| ventures in the hope of allowing innovations to mature. Whatever the purpose of the main exercise, it is important that the definitional clarities prevail under circumstances of multiple interests such as innovation being vital as well for the private as the public domain. Although misconceptions seldom are causes in their own right it could be of essence to clarify the basic tenets in a branch that is under continuous public interest.

Keywords: Schumpeter; European Union; Green Paper on Innovation; invention; diffusion; dissemination; technology; competitiveness.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.1997.001668

International Journal of Technology Management, 1997 Vol.13 No.4, pp.345-358

Published online: 15 Aug 2003 *

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