Social Shaping of Innovation – the Practice of Dealing with Paradox, and Conflict

Henrik Sproedt, Henry Larsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper explores the social dimension of innovation and discusses alternative approaches to deal with paradox and conflict across what is typically called knowledge boundaries when innovating together. We propose an understanding of innovation as socially shaped in the ongoing negotiation of different intentions. We explore two cases to develop the theoretical argument of our approach. We argue that the traditional way to approach the challenge of innovation through objective measurement and reason is not taking into account the political themes because the challenge of crossing the previously constructed boundaries goes beyond the scope in which such reason and measurement would be justified by all participants. This implies a new perspective on management away from control of results based on objective measures, towards engaging in complex relations where (new) justified meaning is negotiated from different perspectives in subjective local interaction. We describe this as social shaping of innovation. We contribute to theory by developing an understanding of the role of social practice in the innovation processes. Further, we outline limitations of established approaches, showing how social shaping can complement them. Based on the experience we gathered in the described cases, we contribute to practice with ideas about how to deal with the outlined challenges and opportunities in everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 14th International CINet Conference : Business Development and Co-creation
Publication date18. Sept 2012
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-77360-25-6
Publication statusPublished - 18. Sept 2012
Event13th International CINet Conference: Continuous Innovation Across Boundaries - LUISS Business School, Rome, Italy
Duration: 16. Sept 201218. Sept 2012
Conference number: 13th


Conference13th International CINet Conference
LocationLUISS Business School

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