Accepted paper:

An exploration of innovation outside of the R&D lab

Authors:

Caroline Stratton (The University of Texas)
Diane Bailey (UT Austin)

Paper short abstract:

Innovation is no longer the sole possession of Silicon Valley or corporate research labs. It has become a watchword in everyday life and work. Our investigation asks the question: Is conceptual precision and clarity possible in the application of the term innovation outside of science and technology?

Paper long abstract:

The term innovation is ubiquitous. Innovation is no longer the sole possession of Silicon Valley or university and corporate research labs. It has become a watchword in everyday life and work. Because of its ubiquity and application to a broad variety of processes and products outside the traditional realm of innovation, science and technology research and development entities, innovation may come to mean less and less as it refers to more and more. Our investigation asks the question: Is conceptual precision and clarity possible in the application of the term innovation outside of science and technology? We examine three cases of self-labeled innovation outside of these conventional boundaries of science and technology to answer this question. The settings for the nontraditional innovations are an educational technology fair in Eastern Bolivia, a gathering place for Colombian soccer hooligans organizing to build conviviality, and the digital inclusion spaces inside of public libraries in Uruguay. Drawing upon data from ethnographic observation and semistructured interviews, we explore informants' conceptions of innovation as a process and the output of the innovating process. Additionally, we probe the meaning of innovation in each setting and draw out the distinguishing features of the concept across the cases. Finally, we explore alternatives to the widespread label of innovation and suggest directions for studying innovation in everyday life settings.

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