Serendipity: towards a taxonomy and a theory

Yaqub, Ohid (2018) Serendipity: towards a taxonomy and a theory. Research Policy, 47 (1). pp. 169-179. ISSN 0048-7333

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Abstract

Serendipity, the notion of researchers making unexpected and beneficial discoveries, has played an important role in debates about the feasibility and desirability of targeting public R&D investments. The purpose of this paper is to show that serendipity can come in different forms and come about in a variety of ways. The archives of Robert K Merton, who introduced the term to the social sciences, were used as a starting point for gathering literature and examples. I identify four types of serendipity (Walpolian, Mertonian, Bushian, Stephanian) together with four mechanisms of serendipity (Theory-led, Observer-led, Error-borne, Network-emergent). I also discuss implications of the different types and mechanisms for theory and policy.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Serendipity, uncertainty, research policy, science policy, technology policy, innovation management
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Ohid Yaqub
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2017 08:10
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 16:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/70541

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