Accepted paper:

Narratives of Innovation in Singapore


Gayathri Haridas (Nanyang Technological University)

Paper short abstract:

Challenging the notion of innovation as being solely dictated by the market, this paper looks at the impact of the dynamics between the state that defines innovation and academia that produces it, two key actors of the NSI machinery of Singapore.

Paper long abstract:

I study how the concept of 'innovation for economic growth' came about and how it is embodied institutionally in Singapore. The origin of the concept of innovation in STI policy design in Singapore, its development, and current status (1965-2015) will be traced by drawing on the social construction of technology approach (Pinch and Bijker, 1987). In addition, I explore how this dominant narrative of innovation impacts academic research in Singapore by studying the multiple perceptions of innovation that exists among policy makers and academic researchers. This will allow a glimpse into tensions or lack there-of between these two dominant groups in Singapore that constructs and produces innovation. I will use interviews with key policymakers and public university academics, and archival research to answer these questions. Challenging the notion of innovation as being solely dictated by market needs, this paper studies how state, people, and technology engage with each other to construct and produce innovation. Andrew Barry showed us how the arbiter of innovation has expanded from technical machines to include political machines (2001) with the state and citizens holding contrasting positions in this political machinery (Asdal, 2004). While the state sets the direction for innovation, academia produces it, within a political sphere constructed by technical/technological machines. By shedding light on the impact of the dominant narrative of innovation on academic research in Singapore, I will attempt to extend the theory of social construction of technology into its third stage by relating innovation to the wider socio-political arena of Singapore.

panel T071
Innovation: Discourses, politics, societies, and blind spots