Benoît Godin (2015), Models of Innovation: Why Models of Innovation are Models, or What Work is Being Done in Calling Them Models?, Project on the Intellectual History of Innovation, Working paper no. 22, INRS: Montreal. A longer version of a paper published in Social Studies of Science, 45 (4), 2015: 570-96.
Models abound in the literature on science, technology and society (STS). They are continuously being invented and succeed one after the other. At the same time, models are regularly criticized. This paper looks at models of innovation and conducts a conceptual analysis of what a model is. To the producers and users of models of innovation, a model has at least five different meanings: conceptualization, narrative, figure, tool and perspective.
Why so many things are called model? Model has both a scientific and a rhetorical function. Model is a symbol of scientificity and travels easily between scholars and between the latter and policy-makers. Calling a conceptualization or narrative or tool model facilitate its propagation.