Management and innovation policy as ideas in expanded and panoramic vision.
First and foremost, innovation begins as a change of ideas. Yes… innovation is practical, something you can see, you can feel, that transforms and has an impact. It means new products, improved production methods, technology introduced by industrial companies, investigated by laboratories specialised in research and development, implemented by multidisciplinary teams in sectors in all parts of the economy, from agriculture to services.
Innovation is a new start. And this means a new direction, a new pace. There is a fresh perspective, a transcendence regarding the known, a surprise in the way the world is perceived. It is about entering the unknown, a gesture that is both action and communication. And it is also the manifestation of a capacity for self-improvement that is built on the basis of a simultaneously creative and destructive combination of aspects that already existed in themselves but hitherto not structured in a new arrangement, pattern or solution.
Let’s examine how two books approach innovation as the mutation of ideas and decisions in two fields: public institutions and the private sector. How to conduct the public policy process in the area of science and technology? How do management processes develop in productive organisations?
The first question is addressed in Handbook on Science and Public Policy (Edward Elgar), published by D. Simon, S. Kuhlmann, J. Stamm and W. Canzler. The second is dealt with in The Oxford Handbook of Management Ideas (Oxford University Press), published A. Sturdy, S. Heusinkveld, T. Reay and D. Strang. The texts in Handbook on Science make reference to a strategic landscape in flux. Research and innovation policy is important for an increasing number of countries, and not only the wealthiest ones typically found in the OECD or G20. And the key principles that should be integral to research and engineering systems are currently feeling the pressure. It is not just economic growth or competitiveness… it is also science and technology being asked for solutions to challenges such as the climate emergency and social sustainability (re-inventing work, adapting to migration).
The Oxford Handbook shows how management tools and governance models are moving parts of the living mechanism that is the global economic system. Business practices are the glue: applied to the value society receives from the economy. The birth, adaptation and discontinuation of management ideas have consequences. They rattle the world as much as ideology (i.e., not everything is rational), shaping expectations and everyday actions (i.e., a lot of it is everyday sleepwalking and non-heroic). Management ideas are innovations; and, like any other innovation, will belong to the past after promising the future.
by Sandro Mendonça
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