Innovation Resistance : Moving Beyond Dominant Framings
Abstract: Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) research has mainly had an outlook that frames innovation in a pro-innovation, pro-firm, manner. Connected to this perception of innovation is a view of human and non-human resistance as a temporary unwanted response that will eventually be overcome. Studies on innovation resistance avoiding the pro-firm and pro-innovation bias are rare, and the findings provide a fragmented understanding of innovation resistance. Moreover, despite focusing on challenging the lingering pro-innovation bias, Critical Innovation Studies have not yet explained why this bias, accompanied by a derogatory view on resistance, lingers in academic writings. Therefore, this study aims to shed light on central presuppositions and limitations of the scholarly knowledge production on innovation and innovation resistance. Specifically, it aims to empirically explore the manifestation of innovation resistance and the dynamics involved in its entanglement with innovation processes. This is achieved through reviews of extant literature combined with an actor-network analysis of interviews, public documents and news articles concerning three different innovation processes. Using an actor-network theory lens, the study finds that innovation resistance is a process between programmes that manifests when an innovation programme intercepts an Other programme. The process consists of layered movements of resistance that entangle the Other with the innovation actor. The movements are conceptualised as non-programmatic behaviour, distortion, estrangement/interessement and rejection. The process enables the Other actor's agency and restricts the innovation actor's agency. The resistance can prompt accommodation from the innovation actor, consequently shaping the innovation process. For the Other, innovation resistance can protect from the influence of an unwanted innovation process. It can also be how the excluded Other (re)gains influence over an innovation process by which it is affected. Moreover, the study finds that the scholarly knowledge production around innovation and its resistance has been conducted from within the mega programme of Industrial Capitalism, including Top Tier journals and the Innovation Studies tribe programmes. Consequently, they lock out Other actors (such as the more than human world, people of colour, women, workers and research non-programmatic with the Top Tier journals and the Innovation Studies programmes), making them essentially invisible or negligible in the innovation research. This explains the narrow system boundaries of the field (allowing researchers to assume that innovation processes lead to a positive sum-game) and the pejorative view on resistance.
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