From creative destruction to convivial innovation – A post-growth perspective

In this paper, we argue that the notion of Creative Destruction underpinning classical innovation management theory as well as having crystallised into technological determinism and productivism has come to a dead-end. Framing innovation’s ultimate goal as the endless pursuit of economic growth is unrealistic if we wish to address pressing environmental challenges. We show that Creative Destruction historically emerged as an ideology from a specific set of values and worldviews at the cradle of Western capitalism and its need for valorisations. Capital valorisation imposes its logic on innovation, definition of needs, consumption, and organisation of work. The mantra of ‘innovate or die’ and its underpinning values represent a hegemonic view on technology aligned with the capitalist mode of production. We argue that a counter-hegemonic view emphasising conviviality and use-value is possible instead and needed to address the environmental and social challenges of our time. We posit that the (re-)emerging mode of production, commons-based peer production (CBPP) has such potential. Indic­ative cases show that innovation underlined by counter-hegemonic values already exists, albeit in the cracks of the dominant system and in constant danger of co-optation. Governmental institutions need to support these alternative practices of innovation.

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