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Innovation: A Very Short Introduction

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Mark Dodgson

Despite the difference in surnames, Mark Dodgson and I are brothers. I have known him and his faults all his life. How he wrote a book like this with David Gann I have no idea, but here it is, and a very good book too. It tells a fascinating story, and … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Mark Dodgson
Genre: Professional & Technical, Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
1 review about Innovation: A Very Short Introduction

A light introduction to innovation

  • May 13, 2010
One of the questions that has perplexed the economist for centuries was the fact that even though the natural resources seem limited, and the human population keeps expanding, we don't seem to be getting poorer nor the life more difficult. In fact, the exact opposite is happening: short-term economic downfalls notwithstanding, we have all been getting richer and richer. Even the poorest people in most developed countries live better by many measures than royalty did just a century or two ago: we have more food, better health care and access to contraptions and gadgets that could not have even been conceived just a generation ago. The answer to this apparent paradox is rather simple: all this improvement comes primarily from innovation. Human innovation has been the primarily driving force behind many of the most dramatic improvements in our standard of living, as we have learned to get more and more out of less and less. The question remains, however, what exactly is innovation, and this very short introduction attempts to give a concise and informative answer to it.

One of the foremost virtues of this book is the number of interesting and insightful case studies of innovation over the past few centuries. Almost a whole chapter is dedicated to Thomas Alva Edison, and this is particularly welcome since this iconic inventor has been slipping from the public conscience in recent years.

However, despite all these interesting case studies and stories of great inventions, there doesn't seem to be a cohesive meta-narrative that would join them into a unified whole. From the theoretical standpoint there is no grappling with the understanding of what innovation is on a very fundamental level. On the other hand, from a purely practical standpoint there is also very little in this book that will guide someone who wants to become an innovator. Parts of the book read like an unapologetic puff pieces for innovation in general and they lack critical reflection.

Despite its flaws, this is an interesting book on innovation that is suitable for someone who just want some casual introduction to the subject.

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