A Socio-Cognitive Approach Towards Innovation

28 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2007


This paper will argue that case studies in innovation research at the level of the firm require an explicit model of how people think and act in organisations. The 'socio-cognitive' approach which is outlined here combines Weick's social psychological ideas with Teece's characterisation of the firm by its technological knowledge base. It is argued that a cognitive approach accommodates the tacit nature of technological knowledge well and that artefacts can be considered as cognitive resources. A distinction is made between the social control of production technology (the firm) and of user technology (typically the market). This distinction is used as the basis for conceptualising technological innovation as the creation by individuals within the firm of 'cognitive ensembles' composed of cognitive elements drawn from both the technological base of the firm and market conceptions.

This focus on the process by which innovation is generated within the firm leads to a brief discussion of previous work on the creative process and the relevance of the socio-cognitive approach to macro-level studies of technological change.

Keywords: Socio-cognitive, cognitive ensembles, artefacts, invention, innovation,

JEL Classification: O31,O32,O33

Suggested Citation

Howells, John, A Socio-Cognitive Approach Towards Innovation. Research Policy, Vol. 24, 1995, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1015747

John Howells (Contact Author)

Aarhus University ( email )

Department of Management
Bartholins Alle, 10
Aarhus, 8000

HOME PAGE: http://pure.au.dk/portal/en/joh@asb.dk

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