In his challenging book, Common Innovation, Peter Swann argues that innovation and wealth creation are not the monopoly of business but the contribution of ordinary people. Joseph Schumpeter, the pioneer of innovation research, described business innovation as a ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’, whereas common innovation is, by comparison, a ‘gentle and benign breeze’. In common innovation, the ordinary citizen is centre stage, and business is quite peripheral.
Building upon the pioneering work of Eric von Hippel on democratic and user-led innovation, this book goes a step further – offering essential comparisons between business and common innovation, real and material wealth, and oikonomia and the ‘outer economy’. Analyses and examples of the destructive side of business innovation accompany Swann’s illustration of the ‘benign breeze’ of common innovation, and a powerful and exciting new role for Leontief models is introduced.
This book will be of great interest to scholars and students seeking a more expansive and insightful understanding of the economics of innovation and wealth.