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Innovation Systems for Transformations towards Sustainability? Taking the Normative Dimension Seriously

Michael P. Schlaile, Sophie Urmetzer, Vincent Blok, Allan Andersen, Job Timmermans, Matthias Mueller, Jan Fagerberg and Andreas Pyka
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Michael P. Schlaile: Department of Innovation Economics (520i), University of Hohenheim, Wollgrasweg 23, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Sophie Urmetzer: Department of Innovation Economics (520i), University of Hohenheim, Wollgrasweg 23, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Vincent Blok: Department of Management Studies, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
Job Timmermans: Department of Management Studies, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands

Sustainability, 2017, vol. 9, issue 12, 1-20

Abstract: The aim of this article is to complement research on transformations towards sustainability by drawing upon the innovation systems (IS) framework. The IS framework already serves as a suitable and influential basis for research on processes of technological innovation and economic change. We argue that improving the capacity of an IS framework for dealing with wicked problems and the normative complexity of sustainability requires a fundamental paradigm shift because in the current IS paradigm innovations are considered as per se desirable and in mostly technological terms. Therefore, we call for IS dedicated to transformations towards sustainability by opening up for systemic innovations beyond the technological dimension and by acknowledging that stakeholders have conflicting visions, interests, norms, and expectations with regard to sustainability goals. Taking the normative dimension of transformations towards sustainability seriously thus requires more explicit and integrative research on directionality, legitimacy, responsibility, and their interrelation in IS. The article concludes by proposing suggestions for future research based on IS-related approaches that can serve as building blocks for an IS framework capable of incorporating legitimate goal-orientation for transformative innovation by and for society.

Keywords: wicked problems; transformations towards sustainability; innovation systems; normativity; paradigms; directionality; legitimacy; responsibility; dedicated innovation systems (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (42)

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