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Innovation

A Study in the Rehabilitation of a Concept

Benoît Godin

For centuries, innovation was a political and contested concept and linguistic weapon used against one's enemy. To support their case, opponents of innovation made use of arguments from ethos and pathos to give power and sustenance to their criticisms and to challenge the innovators. However, since the nineteenth century the arguments have changed completely. Innovation gradually got rehabilitated. This article looks at one type of rehabilitation: the semantic rehabilitation. People started to reread history and to redescribe what innovation is. What was bad innovation became good innovation because of long-lasting and beneficial effects, so it was believed.

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Benoît Godin

Our present understanding of innovation is closely linked to science and research on the one hand and economy and industry on the other. It has not always been so. Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the concept was mainly used in religious and political discourses. In these contexts, actors used it in a pejorative sense. Innovation, imagined as a radical transformation, was considered a peril to the established social order. Such was natural philosophers’ understanding. This article documents Francis Bacon’s work as an eminent example of such a representation. To Bacon, natural philosophy and innovation are two distinct spheres of activity. It is documented that Bacon’s uses of the concept of innovation are found mainly in political, legal, and moral writings, not natural philosophy, because to Bacon and all others of his time, innovation is poli tical.

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Peter R. A. Oeij, Steven Dhondt and Ton Korver

Social innovation is becoming a core value of the EU flagship initiative Innovation Union, but it is not clearly demarcated as it covers a wide field of topics. To understand social innovation within European policymaking a brief outline is given of EC policy developments on innovation and on workplace innovation. Definitions of social innovation formulated at the societal level and the organizational or workplace level are discussed. Empirical research findings of workplace innovation in the Netherlands are presented as examples showing that workplace innovation activities boost organizational performance. The article explores the relation between workplace innovation and social innovation, and concludes that policy developments in the EU can be studied with the theory of social quality, provided that the latter in its empirical approach focuses on how individuals together constitute innovations.

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Indoktrination oder Innovation?

Der Unterrichtsfilm als neues Lehrmedium im Nationalsozialismus

Verena Niethammer

Indoctrination or Innovation? Educational Film as a New Teaching Medium under National Socialism

Seit 1934 wurden im Deutschen Reich von einer zentralen Stelle, der Reichsstelle für den Unterrichtsfilm (RfdU) und seinem Nachfolger der Reichsanstalt für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (RWU), stumme, schwarz-weiße Unterrichtsfilme als Lehrmedien für allgemeinbildende Schulen hergestellt. Von der filmpädagogischen Diskussion begleitet, entwickelt die Filmgattung bereits in ihrer Frühzeit spezifische Erzähl- und Darstellungsweisen, bei denen innovative Filmtechniken und Verfahren zum Einsatz kommen. Aufgrund der Entstehungszeit zwischen 1934 bis 1944 werden die RWU-Filme heute verdächtigt, primär der Indoktrination der Schüler gedient zu haben. In diesem Beitrag wird anhand ausgewählter Unterrichtsfilme und unter Berücksichtigung der RWU-Gesamtproduktion dargelegt, dass – obwohl kaum direkte Spuren von nationalsozialistischer Ideologie auszumachen sind – ein zweiter Blick auf den damaligen Film als Lehrmedium nötig ist. Mit Hilfe filmanalytischer Verfahren werden hier wiederkehrende Themen und visuellen Stereotype ausgemacht, welche die Einstellungen der Zielgruppe prägen konnten.

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The Academic Reserve

Israel's Fast Track to High-Tech Success

Gil Baram and Isaac Ben-Israel

Why is Israel world-renowned as the ‘start-up nation’ and a leading source of technological innovation? While existing scholarship focuses on the importance of skill development during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service, we argue that the key role of the Academic Reserve has been overlooked. Established in the 1950s as part of David Ben-Gurion’s vision for a scientifically and technologically advanced defense force, the Academic Reserve is a special program in which the IDF sends selected high school graduates to earn academic degrees before they complete an extended term of military service. After finishing their service, most participants go on to contribute to Israel’s successful high-tech industry. By focusing on the role of the Academic Reserve, we provide a broader understanding of Israel’s ongoing technological success.

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Social Innovation, Local Governance and Social Quality

The Case of Intersectoral Collaboration in Hangzhou City

Yong Li, Ying Sun and Ka Lin

In contemporary European policy discussion, “innovation“ is a term popularly used for finding responses to the pressure of global competition. In various forms of innovation, the accent is mainly given to technical and business innovation but less to social innovation. This article studies the issue of social innovation with reference to the local practice in Hangzhou city, which aims to strengthen the life quality of citizens in this city. These practices develop various forms of inter-sectoral collaboration, resulting in numerous "common denominator subject" (CDS) groups that are promoted by the local government. These practices follow the principles of cooperation and partnership, and thus develop a corporatist mechanism for urban development. Through discussion of these practices this article explores the nature and the features of these CDS groups, and evaluates its meaning for social innovation, local administration, life quality and social quality.

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Peter Scholten

Policy innovation is necessary for many environmental issues such as climate change and water management. Highly motivated individuals, who are both willing and able to take the lead and press home innovative proposals and as such transform existing policy, are vital in this process. This article focuses on such individuals. An exploration of the literature is confronted with the findings of an empirical study among local policy makers with a reputation for daring. The result is a conceptual map that can be used to further explore and understand the role of leadership and particularly daring decision making in environmental policy innovation.

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Rohan Bastin

This essay examines the importance of sorcery in the dynamics of religious innovation in contemporary Hindu and Buddhist Sri Lanka.1 My interest stems from two observations. First, in almost stark contrast to other Hindu ritual forms that emphasise unchanging text-based rites, the sorcery practices I describe display an almost modernist preoccupation with innovation. Second, much of this innovation originates, or is seen to originate, from outside the cosmic order both of the pantheon and of society. Consequently, sorcery practices manifest a dynamism that often results in the appearance of sorcery having sprung up from nowhere or of being on the sharp increase. However, such an appearance of growth is less of an increase by degree than a shift in visibility. Moreover, it is a characteristic Sri Lankan sorcery practices share with practices elsewhere. When social scientists whose gaze has been primed for spotting anomalies light upon these shifts in visibility, the reaction is usually one of alarm. Scholars whose basic orientation is to the problem of social order and stability tend to judge these apparent aberrations in terms of social breakdown and anomie. Instead of considering what sorcery reveals anthropologically, they instead analyse sorcery as a symptom of a social pathology. The restless dynamism of sorcery and its role in religious innovation remain unaddressed, and this contributes to a conservative view of both the phenomenon of sorcery and the study of religion in general.

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Investing in Workplace Innovation Pays Off for SMEs

A Regional Innovation Initiative from the Netherlands

Peter Oeij, Ernest de Vroome, Astrid Bolland, Rob Gründemann and Lex van Teeffelen

From 2009 to 2013 the workplace innovation project “My Enterprise 2.0” was carried out in the region of Utrecht in the Netherlands in order to strengthen the workplace innovation capability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Participating enterprises completed a questionnaire regarding the “workplace innovativeness” of their company. A workplace innovation intervention was then implemented by some of the companies, while other companies chose not to take part. At the end of the project, a second questionnaire indicated that those companies that implemented interventions had a significantly higher score with regard to overall workplace innovativeness. The companies without such interventions reported a small decrease. While the companies in the region had higher workplace innovativeness scores relative to a national reference group both before and after the project, the increase in the “workplace innovativeness” of the regional SMEs that experienced interventions suggests that the project proved beneficial to their continued “workplace innovativeness.” Moreover, these companies also reported positive effects on company performance, achieving company goals and improving labor productivity.

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Carlo Barone and Gianluca Argentin

In July 2015, the so-called Good School reform was approved. This measure introduces several novelties in the school sector, including an increase in resources. The reform was strongly promoted by Prime Minister Renzi, who has simplified the traditional processes of engagement with the teachers’ unions. The aim is to empower school principals and teachers in a meritocratic framework, to overcome the lack of job stability for teachers by establishing new mechanisms of recruitment, and to open schools to extracurricular activities and vocational experiences. These important innovations, which are needed to improve the existing state of affairs, sound more like announcements rather than concrete commitments. In fact, there is a gap between the communication dimension of the reform, which is very effective, and its actual design, which in many aspects is approximate. There is therefore a real risk that the future implementation of the Good School reform might be less substantive than originally perceived.