In macro-, meso- and micro-economic systems, the concept of innovation involves a variety of resources and functions. It includes all formal and informal institutions, networks and actors that influence innovation and act as innovation boosters within companies, at the territorial level, at the level of innovation networks or in national economies.
This book deals with innovation in a globalized context in terms of the entrepreneur, enterprise, territorial and sectoral systems and national systems of innovation in which collective innovation processes are formed.
Collectives of Innovation and Collective Innovation
In the context of global competition based on innovation, business sectors and the companies that they include develop according to the interplay of opposite forces. On the one hand, gains in efficiency as well as in economies of scale and scope lead to an increase in the size of companies and the creation of oligopolistic market structures, dominated by firms focusing on technological and financial power. On the other hand, competition, the diffusion of new ways of producing, organizing the innovation process, marketing or consuming, as well as public policies, favor the creation of new actors, upsetting the existing rules. These changes, which affect both sides of the market, contribute to the transformation of established structures and the institution of new entities and activities. Innovation is now central to the analysis linking market structures, the actors' strategies and performances. However, innovation strategies refer to a broad environment that incorporates the market structure (the level of concentration of sellers and buyers, the degree of product differentiation, market entry conditions) and includes human, financial, material or immaterial resources that businesses can make use of to innovate and transform market structures with their strategies and performances. Institutional characteristics (laws, rules, norms, conventions) also help structure the framework within which companies act. Alteration of these structures may result from technological progress, the behaviors and strategies employed by companies, and the action of public policies on national, regional and even global levels. Studying market structures then becomes pertinent only if the analysis of innovation strategies is associated with the use of performance criteria beyond merely their economic aspect.
The innovation process is causally related to a problem - technological, economic or social - facing the market economy and consciously or unconsciously identified by its actors. Thus, innovation is related to finding the best solution to this problem. This implies the use of knowledge and information coming from practice, experience and science. Innovation itself is a collective, cumulative and historical process defined by the following seven main characteristics: (1) the effects of innovation are difficult to predict; (2) the scale of the dissemination of innovation is difficult to calculate; (3) innovative activities are asymmetrical and evolve at different paces over time; (4) learning, execution and diffusion time plays a major part in the innovative act; (5) the business environment affects the time, scale, nature and effects of innovation; (6) the implementation space, in other words, the geographic and communication distances, favor or, on the contrary, hinder access to the information and strategic knowledge of the innovation process and (7) innovations are interconnected; due to the risk associated with cost and time, innovation is at times a collective act and at other times - or simultaneously - the result of the collectivization of its inputs.
In new approaches to innovation, entrepreneurs and companies are understood in relation to their skills and their function in the creation of resources. Whether gradual or radical, innovation therefore becomes endogenous and it is incorporated in a complex process characterized by several types of feedback and interactions. An innovative organization is presented as a dynamic system that includes specific and diversified skills. An innovative agent (entrepreneur, company, group or, in general, organization), by acquiring, combining and making use of these skills, can create technological resources and develop its relationship with its environment. This accounts for the importance of managing design, application and development in the implementation of an innovation process. An innovation system mobilizes a set of bodies of knowledge and skills resulting from learning processes and that are incorporated in its memory. These bodies of knowledge must be enriched to be developed by technological, organizational and business innovation. The survival of the system depends on its ability to innovate, which allows it to face external attacks, evolve and persist. External stimuli (competition, product substitutability, innovation policies, etc.) are generated by the economic environment and affect entrepreneurs and companies as a means of selection. Selection procedures are shaped by the business climate: the nature of the product market, availability of capital and work, innovation pace, effects of public policies, etc. Consequently, they can create alternatives to the way in which a given company (an organization or, more generally, a specific innovation system) works, manages and produces. The strategy of an innovative organization is therefore based on the three-"A" model: analyze one's own strengths and weaknesses and those of the technological, economic and social environment in order to anticipate change and act to adapt to or, on the contrary, drive progress [BOU 13].
The methods employed for managing innovation have radically evolved in the last two decades. The progress observed in digital technologies and the increase in the pressure of competition have led companies to open up their research and development (R&D) activities, employing strategies that rely more and more on the combination of their internal capacities with a range of external resources [UZU 12].
Decision and power are the two key words in business management. The decision-making system of a company ensures the regulation of its activities. It is built on the game for power and control of its owners and contributes to the establishment of the decision-making authority of its "technostructure". A company is forced to grow in size and strengthen its power on the market to avoid disappearing. In order to do so, it must reduce the uncertainty that characterizes how the market works by acquiring all means necessary to capture, sort, process and use the largest number of economic, technological, financial, business and political pieces of information. A more changeable environment is associated with a more rapid capital turnover, leading to a faster innovation pace and higher business risks. The constant expansion, integration and renewal of the market increases business and financial risks. Therefore, a company must invest in the creation of a partnership network and/or in the involvement with existing innovation networks to ward off these risks thanks to access to rare skills and knowledge, the profit made from intra-network externalities or closer relationships with its customers and providers.
The theoretical models that focus on opening the borders of a company include the open innovation paradigm, the user-led innovation theory, approaches to innovation such as the community of communities, or the approach involving business ecosystems and models. All of these approaches consider innovation as the result of the interaction and collaboration between organizations. They involve researching, selecting, combining and integrating a wide range of tangible and intangible resources, incorporated in different organizational and technological contexts and distributed within and beyond the borders of an organization. These interactive approaches to innovation involve the transformation of the processes and practices related to knowledge management implemented by innovative organizations. Thus, the distribution of knowledge associated with performing tasks that involve invention and innovation consequently develops the way in which knowledge is created, applied and put to work. Collective intelligence (multi-individual, multi-organizational) must outweigh singular intelligence (individual, mono-organizational).
A company "collectivizes" innovation processes by spreading out as a network and simultaneously setting up networks to share the costs and controlling when new technologies and production methods, as well as new products and marketing methods, are introduced internally and on the market. In any case, an outline based on a collective effort is shaped by the companies' decision to build up "knowledge capital" (and integrate it in its own assets, both tangible and intangible, material and immaterial, productive and financial) in order to guarantee access to and the creation of new resources necessary for continuous innovation (see Blandine Laperche's chapter in this book (Chapter 1) and [LAP 17]). Large companies appropriate the useful scientific and technological information available in their environment to incorporate it in their own bodies of knowledge. The production of knowledge and innovation are therefore considered as collective processes built within complex networks of interorganizational cooperation.
For several years, the networking of individuals and organizations, the multiplication of data and format dematerialization have brought about a real change in human activities, leading us to reconsider uses and to satisfy them in different ways. All these changes also lead us to rethink companies and their business models. The tension between increasingly more sophisticated innovations in a complex world and short-term profit motives draws attention to the economic assessment of an innovative project. However, other values such as knowledge, trust and achievement are generated by the collective work mobilized by not only a company or business networks, but also innovative products or processes, which must be regarded as outputs in their own right rather than as...