X-Innovation: Re-Inventing Innovation Again and Again

23 Oct

Gerald Gaglio, Benoît Godin and Sebastian Pfotenhauer (2017), X-Innovation: Re-Inventing Innovation Again and Again, Project on the Intellectual History of Innovation, INRS : Montreal.


Innovation is an old word, of Greek origin, that came into the Latin vocabulary at around the fourth century and into our everyday vocabulary with the Reformation. However, it is only during the second half of the twentieth century that innovation became a fashionable concept and turned into a buzzword. It gave rise to a plethora of terms like technological innovation, organizational innovation, industrial innovation and, more recently, social innovation, open innovation, sustainable innovation, responsible innovation and the like. We may call these terms X-innovation.

How can we make sense of this semantic extension? Why do these terms come into being? What drives people to coin new terms? What effects do the terms have on thought, on culture and scholarship and on policy and politics? In this article we offer a conceptual historical analysis of the semantic field of innovation