The Theory of Innovation


The Theory of Innovation

Entrepreneurs, Technology and Strategy

9781858988320 Edward Elgar Publishing
Jon Sundbo, Professor of Business Administration and Innovation, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University, Denmark
Publication Date: 1999 ISBN: 978 1 85898 832 0 Extent: 232 pp
This important book will be essential reading for academics interested in innovation, technology and industrial organization.

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This important book presents for the first time a coherent analysis of the development of innovation theory from the nineteenth century to the present day. It examines the emergence of different theories of innovation in different periods, and how they compete for dominance today. Specifically, it looks at three paradigms within innovation theory – entrepreneurship, the rise of technology, and strategic behaviour.

The book begins by discussing what innovation is and how innovation processes are to be understood within the historical perspective of long wave theory. Jon Sundbo then investigates the contribution of each of the following three paradigms, their inter-relationships and implications at the micro level. He considers entrepreneurs as individuals who have implemented or gained independence through their ideas. Historically, these would be the founders of enterprises, while the modern counterparts may be in companies that already exist. Secondly he addresses technology as a determinant of innovation, emphasizing the relations technology has with organizational and social factors. Thirdly, the author looks at strategic behaviour and the ability to recognize market opportunities and management processes for business strategies. Finally, he discusses the possibility of the three paradigms merging, how they differentiate and how they may be used in future innovation research.

This important book will be essential reading for academics interested in innovation, technology and industrial organization.
Critical Acclaim
‘The book is certainly worth reading and takes an interesting perspective on innovation studies. . . I found it both challenging and thought-provoking.’
– J. Howells, Education Economics

‘This book tackles a large subject and is commendably wide-ranging in its review of relevant literatures.’
– Jim Love, Review of Industrial Organization

‘This book gives researchers a historical and evolutionary framework into which we might place the problems that we are each pursuing. In addition, it helps us understand the reasons why the questions we are asking are important today. This book is important reading for doctoral students and academic researchers focussed on any aspect of innovation. It is filled with philosophy of science issues. . . and draws on numerous streams of research, most of which are classics in fields ranging from entrepreneurship to strategic management theory to macroeconomic theory. Sundbo provides rich interpretations of historical writers’ works, sometimes giving detailed descriptions, relating them to current and contemporary theories, and consistently using them to build his own theory. . . his interpretations in and of themselves are very insightful. . . he has provided the field a great service in combining and interpreting the numerous works that exist.’
– Gina Colarelli O’Connor, Journal of Product Innovation Management
Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Issues in Innovation Theory 3. Innovation Theory in Historical Perspective: The Long Waves of the Economy 4. Three Innovation Periods, Each with its Own Innovation System 5. The Paradigmatic Situation in Innovation Theory in the Recovery Phase in the 1980s and 1990s: The Strategic Theory of Innovation 6. The Interrelationships of the Three Basic Innovation Theories and their Implications at the Micro Level 7. Summing Up Bibliography Index
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