Systemic Innovation - Critical Rethinking of Boundaries

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:54
Oral Presentation
Erik LINDHULT, Design and Engineering Mälardalen University, Sweden
Innovation is often understood within relatively narrow boundaries, where single-issue financial, social or environmental gains can be made, but impacts on other areas of concern are marginalized. Stakeholder engagement tends to be similarly narrow, involving customers or service users and maybe suppliers and close business partners, but not those who have wider concerns. A fundamental dimension of recent systems thinking paradigms is critical reflection on how boundaries are constructed based on available knowledge and value judgements of stakeholders (Churchman 1970; Ulrich, 1983; Midgley, 2000). The role of boundary construction and boundary reflection is a largely unexplored issue in research on and management of innovation practices. The purpose of this paper is to employ boundary reflection for rethinking the landscape of innovation approaches, like open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003) and democratized innovation (von Hippel, 2005), and clarify systemic innovation as a concept and approach. Systemic innovation as concept emerged in the end of 1980s as a recognition of the interconnected, networked dimensions of innovations (Teece. 1986; Laat, 1999; Takey and Carvalho, 2016) as a forerunner to open innovation and other interactive, collaborative and participatory perspectives and approaches to innovation (Rothwell, 1992). The stream of research on systemic innovation has a main focus on innovations that is dependent on its innovation context for its development. The paper shows how the concept and practice of systemic innovation enables critical rethinking of boundary setting in innovation practices (ison, 2016), e.g. how actors and issues are prioritized or marginalized having significant effects of on innovation processes and outcomes. Such constructionist framing opens up for reflection on the role of power, conflict, value judgments and ethics in innovation, and conditions and methods for participation and dialogue among stakeholder in investigating synergies in value co-creation and sharing.