Innovation - What is it all about? (Beijing, China)

Lars Bo Kaspersen, (Coordinator, course leader, lecturer), (b. 1961), BA (Copenhagen), MA (Copenhagen), MA (Sussex), PhD (Aarhus), Professor, Formerly Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen and Head of the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School. Has published widely on social theory and political sociology. Author of among other publications ‘Denmark in the world’. Kaspersen’s research areas are state formation processes in Europe, the transformation of the welfare state, sociology of war, social theory, in particular relational theory. Together with Norman Gabriel he is working on a book about Norbert Elias’s political sociology. He recently received a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation to study bottom-up social innovation processes during the two hundred years in Northern Europe. His publications have appeared in journals such as Sociology, Sociological Review, European Journal of Sociology and Socio-Economic Review. Kaspersen teaches history, politics, and sociology.

Søren Andreasen (1964) is an artist based in Copenhagen. Graduated from the Royal Academy of Art, Copenhagen. He has taken part in exhibitions such as Post Institutional Stress Disorder, Kunsthal Aarhus (2018), Synthetics, primer/Aquaporin (2017), The 8th Climate, 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016), The Real After Psychedelia, CAC Vilnius (2015), Literacy-Illiteracy, 16. Tallinn Print Triennale (2014), Leisure, Discipline and Punishment, Contour 6, Mechelen (2013). His publications include Chiang Yee/Masse og orden/Exoburg, Antipyrine (2018), Towards a Lightness of Mind and Matter, emancipa(t/ss)ionsfrugten (2017), Mass and order 2, mediabus (2016), and, with Lars Bang Larsen, The Critical Mass of Mediation, Internationalistisk Ideale (2012/2014). 2004-11 he was a professor at Jutland Art Academy. www.sorenandreasen.net.

(more professors/guest lecturers will be added)

Course coordinator
Professor Lars Bo Kaspersen, CBS

Sino Danish Center (SDC-Social Science) welcomes participants to this new and exciting PhD Course: 


Participants: All SDC-PhD-students are welcome. In particular, the course targets PhD-students in Innovation Management (IM), Public Management and Social Development (PM), but PhD-students not enrolled in the SDC-PhD-program but in other PhD-programs in social sciences are also welcome. We also accommodate 2-4 PhD-students with background in science or humanities. 

This course targets any doctoral students who has an interest in innovation, creativity, and in progressive social change. Formally, you need a degree in social science but since innovation is cross-disciplinary we can accept other degrees than social science. The participants must be familiar with theories and methods within social sciences.

It is expected that the participants have read the pre-scribed reading and take part in class discussions. They need to attend the whole course in order to receive the diploma.

The paper: Each participant must produce a paper about their PhD projects.

The paper is due 20 August 2019. Please, send it to Lars Bo Kaspersen lbk.mpp@cbs.dk

Travel stipends
The course is open to all PhD students on the terms listed above. The Principal Coordinator of the SDC Social Sciences offers 6 travel stipends of 6,000 DDK each. The stipends can be applied by non-SDC financed PhD students enrolled at the course. SDC financed PhD students must cover their cost of travel and accommodation within their overall budgets.

Application must contain:
- Why is this Phd-course important to me?
- My phd-project – short description
- My back ground – what did I do for my Bachelor degree and master degree
- Other relevant information

Application must be short and not exceed one page

Applications for travel stipends should be sent to Katja Høeg Tingleff - kht.research@cbs.dk - no later than 15 June 2019. The Principal Coordinator Stine Haakonsson will shortly after decide on the distribution of the stipends.

At least since the advanced capitalist societies were trapped in the so-called stagflation crisis in the 1970s – a crisis reinforced by the oil crisis, the repercussions of the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the war in Vietnam and other events –leading experts, economists, policy advisors, and politicians have pushed for more innovation – innovation to stay competitive. In the current debate it is no longer just technological innovations but innovations related to all aspects of social life including a wide understanding of technology. Thus, some contributors to the innovation debate call for social innovation, organizational innovation, institutional innovation and many other forms of innovation.

Innovation seems to be one of the most important issues in the early 21st century. All states, governments, businesses, universities and other research and educational institutions want to be innovative and lead the innovation race. Universities, which historically carried the role of creating new ideas and to teach the students to get new ideas, have realized that they are no longer the only ones producing innovation. Many competitors have appeared and today we see a fierce competition between public and private universities, big businesses, governmental agencies, and think tanks. Schools have clear goals about producing innovative and creative students.

This course will step back and look at various fields, discourses, and understandings of ‘innovation’. Moreover, we focus on two particular discussions about innovation. The first one focuses on the relationship between warfare. The other example refers to the debate about the role of art and artists in innovation processes. Can we improve innovation in business and technology if we bring the creative artist into the innovation process?

Course content
An important distinction is normally made between invention and innovation. Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process, while innovation is the first attempt to carry it out into practice. Sometimes, invention and innovation are closely linked, to the extent that it is hard to distinguish one from another (biotechnology for instance). In many cases, however, there is a considerable time lag between the two. In fact, a lag of several decades or more is not uncommon (Rogers 1995). Such lags reflect the different requirements for working out ideas and implementing them. While inventions may be carried out anywhere, for example in universities, innovations occur mostly in firms, though they may also occur in other types of organizations, such as public hospitals. To be able to turn an invention into an innovation, a firm normally needs to combine several different types of knowledge, capabilities, skills, and resources. For instance, the firm may require production knowledge, skills and facilities, market knowledge, a well-functioning distribution system, sufficient financial resources, and so on. It follows that the role of the innovator, i.e. the person or organizational unit responsible for combining the factors necessary (what the innovation theorist Joseph Schumpeter called the “entrepreneur”), may be quite different from that of the inventor. Indeed, history is replete with cases in which the inventor of major technological advances fails to reap the profits from his breakthroughs.

The first day of the course we will read a number of classical texts about innovation among others Schumpeter. We need to raise a number of questions:

- How do the ‘classical texts’ understand innovation?
- Why do human beings produce innovation?
- How do we produce innovation?
- Is innovation necessary?
- What drives innovation?

DAY ONE – program:

09.00-10.00– Welcome and presentations

10:00-12:00 – How does the field of innovation understand and conceptualize ‘innovation’?

12:00–13:00 – Lunch

13:00-15:00 – Innovation: Chinese Perspectives

15:00-17:00 – National Innovation System: East Asia (China)

Day Two
This course will take a step back and reflect upon innovation from a second and third order perspective. We will briefly look into how social science and humanities perceive, conceive, and theorize about ‘innovation’. ‘Innovation’ relates to different forms of change and therefore we begin the course by scrutinizing the arsenal of concepts, terms, and word which points to processes creating “innovation”. Creativity of Action, Innovation, Resilience, Change, Development, Alternation, Shift, alternatives, new, discovery, transcendence, and emergence are all key concepts to be found in different social theories and we shall discuss how these concepts relate to “innovation”. Innovation comes from latin: inno vare = renew and besides renewal it relates to new formations, improvement and several other things. We will analyse and discuss different understandings of innovation and we will examine different innovation concepts in order to come up with a stronger concept than the common sense notion dominating most of the public discourse.

DAY TWO – Program:

09.00-10:00 – welcome and introduction

10:00-12:00 – Classical social theory and innovation (LBK)

12:00-13:00 – Lunch

13:00-16:30 – Modern social theory and innovation (LBK)

Day 3 and 4 are dedicated to two special themes concerning innovation. On day 3 we will look into the relationship between warfare and innovation. It is a well-known and established fact that there is a relationship between big investments in military technology, innovation and a considerable spin-off in the civilian sector. Even if it is an established knowledge very few within science and technology seriously study this relationship. On day 3 we will discuss to what extent the investments in the military sector actually pays off by inventions and innovation in the military. Second, we will examine the outcome and pursue the question: does it produce the spin-off in the civilian sector? Lastly, we will discuss, if it is the case that investments in military technological development actually produce innovation, why is it so that investment in ‘destructive forces’ might generate more innovation including the spin-off in the civilian sector than any other attempts to produce technological innovation? What is so special about war?

Day 3: Program: War and Innovation

9.00-10.00 – intro to the theme

10:00-11:00 – Visit to the lab I: the machine gun

11:00-12:00 – Visit to the lab II: The internet

12:00-13:00 – Lunch

13:00-14:30 – Spin off and societal change
- Case: the American Enterprise culture
- Case: the zip, mobile phone, the laptop

14:30-16:00 – Warfare and social change

We will focus on art and innovation. In contemporary Western culture the artist is regarded as a very creative person. Consequently, several people suggest that artistic method can be used as a role model for businesses and in the research lab in order to inject creativity, new ways of thinking, entrepreneurial modes of thinking and acting etc. Can the institutions we expect to be innovative learn from Western art? Do we find examples? It requires that Western art is the right field to find innovation. Is Western art necessarily innovative? Are Western artists locked into paradigms or discourses as much as we see researchers are? To initiate a meditation on these questions, the discursive framework of the notions ‘creativity’ and ‘artistic method’ is outlined, followed by a case study of the entreprise Aquaporin/primer where it is the ambition to merge the qualities of art and artistic method with those of synthetic biological industry and research.

Day 4 – Art and Innovation – program

09.00-10.00 – Intro to the theme

10:00-11:00 – The discourse of creativity in Western art

11:00-12:00 – What is artistic method?

12:00-13:00 – Lunch

13:00-14:00 – Intro to the art-and-technology entreprise Aquaporin/primer

14:00-15:00 - The discourse of art-and-technology initiated by the Aquaporin/primer entreprise

15:00-16:00 – Conclusive remarks and questions

Here we will reflect upon the discussions and learnings we have encountered during the week. We will look into (some of) the PhD-projects and confront these with (new?) perspectives developed during the week. Also we shall look into the Chinese discourse of innovation. How is China prepared for innovating in order to solve the ‘big global challenges’ such as climate changes, energy, environmental problems, food, and infrastructure development? Finally, we shall briefly discuss J. Diamond’s contribution to understand human evolution and human innovation during 13000 years.

Day 5 – Innovation – different perspectives - program

09.00-10.00 – The ‘big global challenges (climate changes, environmental problems, food, energy etc) and China – policies in place? (Chinese Professor)

10.00-11.00 – A Chinese innovation ‘model to meet these challenges? (Chinese Professor)

11.00-12.30 – ‘Guns, Germs, and Steele’ (Diamond’s explanation)

12.30-13.30 – Lunch

13.30-16.00 – Phd-projects and new perspectives

Teaching style

Lecture plan

Learning objectives



Start date

End date




Course Literature
Expected readings:

Day 1: Innovation (key literature)

Selections from the following literature:

Aghion, P., and Howitt, P. (1998), Endogenous Growth Theory, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Andersen, E. S. (1994), Evolutionary Economics, Post-Schumpeterian Contributions, London: Pinter.

Arthur, W. B. (1994), Increasing Returns and Path Dependency in the Economy, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Braczyk13000, H. J. et al. (1998), Regional Innovation Systems, London: UCL Press.

Carlsson, B., and Stankiewicz, R. (1991), “On the Nature, Function and Composition of Technological Systems,” Journal of Evolutionary Economics 1: 93–118.

Chandler, A. D. (1962), Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

—— (1990) Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Cohen, W. (1995), “Empirical Studies of Innovative Activity,” in P. Stoneman (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation and Technological Change, Oxford: Blackwell, 182–264.

*—— and Levinthal, D. (1990), “Absorptive Capacity: A New Perspective on Learning and Innovation,” Administrative Science Quarterly 35: 123–33.

Diamond, J. (1998), Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13000 Years, London: Vintage.

Dosi, G. (1988), “Sources, Procedures and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation,” Journal of Economic Literature 26: 1120–71.

Edquist, C., Hommen, L., and McKelvey, M. (2001), Innovation and Employment: Process versus Product Innovation, Cheltenham: Elgar.

(p. 24) Fagerberg, J. (1987), “A Technology Gap Approach to Why Growth Rates Differ,” Research Policy 16: 87–99, repr. as ch. 1 in Fagerberg (2002).

Fagerberg, (1997), “Competitiveness, Scale and R&D,” in J. Fagerberg et al., Technology and International Trade, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 38–55, repr. as ch. 15 in Fagerberg (2002).

—— (2000), “Vision and Fact: A Critical Essay on the Growth Literature,” in J. Madrick (ed.), Unconventional Wisdom: Alternative Perspectives on the New Economy, New York: The Century Foundation, 299–320, repr. as ch. 6 in Fagerberg (2002).

—— (2003), “Schumpeter and the Revival of Evolutionary Economics: An appraisal of the Literature,” Journal of Evolutionary Economics 13: 125–59.—— and Verspagen, B. (2002), “Technology-Gaps, Innovation-Diffusion and Transformation: An Evolutionary Interpretation,” Research Policy 31: 1291–304.

Freeman, C. (1987), Technology Policy and Economic Performance: Lessons from Japan, London: Pinter.

—— and Louçã, F. (2001), As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Granovetter, M. (1973), “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78: 1360–80.

(p. 25) Krugman, P. (1979), “A Model of Innovation, Technology Transfer and the World Distribution of Income,” Journal of Political Economy 87: 253–66.

Lundvall, B. Å. (1988), “Innovation as an Interactive Process: From User–Producer Interaction to the National System of Innovation,” in Dosi et al. 1988: 349–69.

—— (ed.) (1992), National Systems of Innovation: Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning, London: Pinter.

Malerba, F., and Orsenigo, L. (1997), “Technological Regimes and Sectoral Patterns of Innovative Activities,” Industrial and Corporate Change 6: 83–117.

Mensch, G. (1979), Stalemate in Technology, Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Company.

Metcalfe, J. S. (1998), Evolutionary Economics and Creative Destruction, London: Routledge.

Nelson, R. R. (ed.) (1993), National Systems of Innovation: A Comparative Study, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nonaka, I., and Takeuchi, H. (1995), The Knowledge Creating Company, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pavitt, K. (1984), “Patterns of Technical Change: Towards a Taxonomy and a Theory,” Research Policy 13: 343–74.

Porter, M. E. (1990), “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” Harvard Business Review 68: 73–93.

Rogers, E. (1995), Diffusion of Innovations, 4th edn., New York: The Free Press.

Schumpeter, J. (1934), The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

—— (1939), Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Historical, and Statistical Analysis of the Capitalist Process, 2 vols., New York: McGraw-Hill.

*—— (1943), Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, New York: Harper.

—— (1949), “Economic Theory and Entrepreneurial History,” Change and the Entrepreneur, 63–84, repr. in J. Schumpeter (1989), Essays on Entrepreneurs, Innovations, Business Cycles and the Evolution of Capitalism, ed.

Richard V. Clemence, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 253–61.

(p. 26) Schumpeter, R. (1954), History of Economic Analysis, New York: Allen & Unwin.

Shionoya, Y. (1997), Schumpeter and the Idea of Social Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Soete, L. (1987), “The Impact of Technological Innovation on International Trade Patterns: The Evidence Reconsidered,” Research Policy 16: 101–30.

Swedberg, R. (1991), Joseph Schumpeter: His Life and Work, Cambridge: Polity Pre

Tidd, J., Bessant, J., and Pavitt, K. (1997), Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organizational Change, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Tushman, M. L., and Anderson, P. (1986). “Technological Discontinuities and Organizational Environments,” Administrative Science Quarterly 31(3): 439–65.

Utterback, J. M. (1994), Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Van de Ven, A., Polley, D. E., Garud, R., and Venkataraman, S. (1999), The Innovation Journey, New York: Oxford University Press.

Vernon, R. (1966), “International Investment and International Trade in the Product Cycle,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 80: 190–207.

Von Hippel, E. (1988), The Sources of Innovation, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wakelin, K. (1997), Trade and Innovation: Theory and Evidence, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Walker, W. B. (1979), Industrial Innovation and International Trading Performance, Greenwich: JAI Press.

+ literature selected by Chinese professors

Day 2: How can classical and modern social theory contribute to new ways of understanding innovation?

Selections from:

Joas, H. The Creativity of Action.

Bourdieu, P. The Logic of Practice

Foucault, M. The Order of Things.

Giddens, A. 1984. The Constitution of Society.

Luhmann, N. The Social System.

More texts will be added

Day 3: Military technology and innovation:

Alder, Ken. 1997. Engineering the Revolution. Princeton: Princeton UP.

Boot, M. (2006), War made new. New York: Gotham books.

Creveld, Martin Van (1989), Technology and War. New York: The Fee Press.

Creveld, Martin Van (1989), Supplying War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hambling, D. (2005), Weapons Grade. London Constable.

Pearton, M. (1982). The Knowledgeable State. London: The Burnett Books.

Reynolds, Terry S. & Cutcliffe, S.H. (eds), (1997 [1962]), Technology and the West. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Smith, Merritt Roe (1985), Military Enterprise and Technological Change. Cambrdige, Ma., MIT Press.

Von Braun, C.-F. (1997), The Innovation War. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

White, Michael, (2005), The Fruits of War. London. Simon & Schuster.

Day 4: Art, Creativity, and Innovation (100-200 pages)

Shifting Terrain, Lane Relyea, Texte zur Kunst 96, 2014, p. 136-142

Synthetic: How Life Got Made, Sophia Roosth, The University of Chicago Press, 2017

Chapter One - Life by Design: Evolution and Creation Tales in Synthetic Biology, p. 21-52

The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics, Yuk Hui, Urbanomic, 2016

Introduction, p. 3-57

The Middleman: Beginning to Think About Mediation, Lars Bang Larsen & Søren Andreasen,
in Curating Subjects, Open Editions, 2007, p. 20-30

Day 5: “Innovative Readings”

Literature selected by Chinese professors

No tuition fee

Minimum number of participants

Maximum number of participants

SDC-building, Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research, Eastern Yanqihu campus, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 380 Huaibeizhuang, Huairou district, Beijing,
E-mail: beijingoffice@sdc.university

Contact information
For course related or SDC related enquiries, please contact Course Coordinator Lars Bo Kaspersen lbk.dbp@cbs.dk

Registration deadline

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