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40.3 - Methods of Innovation Research

HSR Vol. 40 (2015) No. 3: Special Issue: Methods of Innovation Research: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed-Method Approaches, Dzifa Ametowobla, Nina Baur & Robert Jungmann (Eds.)

Innovation Studies today are dominated by two typical theory/method bundles that emerged across disciplinary debates: ethnographies of innovation, evolving mainly from Science and Technology Studies (STS), and (national, regional, territorial) systems of innovation research in economics and geography. Therefore, methodological debates in the field, on the one hand, cover only a small range of research questions, data types, designs, as well as tools for data analysis. On the other hand, methodological tools are strangely detached from the general debate on social science as well as historical and process-oriented methodology.

The hypothesis motivating this HSR Special Issue is that the dominance of these deeply institutionalized agendas within the research field on innovation hampers an adequately broad theoretical and methodological access to the complex processes that are characteristic for innovation. Right now, this problem is only discussed theoretically. With this HSR Special Issue, we want to:

  1. take a first step towards integrating the methodological debates in innovation research and the social sciences,
  2. suggest methodological alternatives to ethnographies of innovation, as well as indicator-based systems of innovation research,
  3. present alternative forms of indicator-based and ethnographic methods.

The methodological tools presented here can provide a broader empirical base for substantial theorizing about innovation as well as for dealing with research topics and theoretical problems as yet unexplored in the field.