A cognitive model of innovation

Nightingale, Paul (1998) A cognitive model of innovation. Research Policy, 27 (7). pp. 689-709. ISSN 0048-7333

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This paper develops a theoretical framework based on empirical case study research that explains the role of tacit knowledge in technical change and how scientific knowledge is used in innovation. It develops a theoretical argument that proposes that science cannot be directly applied to produce technology because science answers the wrong question. Innovation starts with a desired end result and attempts to find the unknown starting conditions that will achieve it. Scientific knowledge, by contrast, goes in the opposite direction, from known starting conditions to unknown end results. This difference in direction is overcome by following tacitly understood traditions of technological knowledge that co-evolve with technological paradigms, but are themselves outside the realm of science. The paper demonstrates how technologies are constructed socially' and embody sociological and political conceptions of problems and appropriate solutions, but the theory maintains a very realist perspective. The Cognitive approach treats knowledge as a capacity that is embodied in the brain, and embedded in socialised practices, using the metaphor of pattern'. The paper explores why scientific patterns cannot be perfectly extrapolated for complex, non-trivial technologies and shows why technical change is dependent on learnt tacit conceptions of similarity that cannot be reduced to information processing.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Paul Nightingale
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:08
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 14:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/19351
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