Innovation is increasingly recognized as a vitally important social and economic phenomenon worthy of serious research study. Firms are concerned about their innovation ability, particularly relative to their competitors. Politicians care about innovation, too, because of its presumed social and economic impact. However, to recognize that innovation is desirable is not sufficient. What is required is systematic and reliable knowledge about how best to influence innovation and to exploit its effects to the full.
Gaining such knowledge is the aim of the field of innovation studies, which is now at least half a century old. Hence, it is an opportune time to ask what has been achieved and what we still need to know more about. This is what this book sets out to explore. Written by a number of central contributors to the field, it critically examines the current state of the art and identifies issues that merit greater attention. The focus is mainly on how society can derive the greatest benefit from innovation and what needs to done to achieve this. However, to learn more about how society can benefit more from innovation, one also needs to understand innovation processes in firms and how these interact with broader social, institutional and political factors. Such issues are therefore also central to the discussion here.