New Forms of Innovation: theoretical and empirical insights into dynamics of territorial and relational geographies

Session organizers:

Simone Strambach (simone.strambach@staff.uni-marburg.de), Anna Butzin (butzin@iat.eu)


New forms of innovation gain attention in global change, as response to pressing environmental and socio-economic challenges posed by climate and demographic change, resource scarcity and increasing social inequalities. Technological and science-based innovations alone do not appear sufficient to address these highly complex and wicked problems (Ritter/Weber 1973). New forms of innovation are currently shaping the scholarly debate by using various terms such as ‘social and sustainability innovation’, ‘frugal’ or ‘inclusive innovation’, ‘base of the pyramid innovation’ or ‘eco-innovation’. These concepts have one feature in common: they address socio-ecological problem areas on different social and spatial scales by using distinct theoretical and empirical approaches.

New forms of innovation seem to differ distinctively from recognized technological and economic forms of innovation in their formation and scaling process, in actor constellations and the underpinning complexity of knowledge integration and combination. The influence of the spatial socio-institutional context, path dependencies and the role of transnational networks on the development process are largely unexplored. Until now, mutual engagement of the different research strands is very limited, so differences and similarities between ‘new’ types of innovation are still unclear. Synergies and complementarities that might provide deeper insights in their social and spatial impacts are hindered by different research paradigms, terminologies and concepts.

Against this background, the session will provide a forum to discuss the current conceptualization of new forms of innovation as well as to identify key questions and avenues for future research. Both theoretical/conceptual and empirical contributions are just as welcome as contributions that broaden the range of methodological approaches. In terms of geographical scope, the session wishes to attract papers from a wide range of geographical contexts from “the global north” and “the global south”.