Thursday, March 3, 2016

What inspires innovation?

It is now received wisdom that innovation and competitiveness are closely linked. Companies that are good at innovating are good at competing in the market; the uncompromising nature of the market, in turn is a powerful force on companies to innovate. But Bell Labs' history demonstrates that the truth is actually far more complicated. It also suggests that we tend to misinterpret the value of markets. What seems more likely, as the science writer Steven Johnson has noted in a broad study of scientific innovations, is that creative environments that foster a rich exchange of ideas are far more important in eliciting important new insights than are the forces of competition.
Jon Gertner, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (New York: Penguin, 2012), p. 352

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