A pragmatist theory of innovation

B. Nooteboom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter, I develop theoretical foundations for practice-based innovation from the embodied cognition school of thought in cognitive science and from the pragmatist line of thought in philosophy. From it, I derive the notion of cognitive distance. I use the resulting insights to discuss the well-known notions of absorptive capacity and exploitation and exploration from the innovation literature, and the way in which exploitation and exploration are connected. In the analysis I model practice in terms of the notion of a script. Cognitive difference (‘distance’) complicates but also enriches collaboration, and this positive effect is related to the notion of bridging structural holes. Among other things, the analysis yields an underpinning of the idea that application is not just a result of research but also a basis for ideas for research, in two-way traffic between theory and practice, and between research and application. The analysis also has implications for innovation policy, in particular for the currently popular principle of focus and mass.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPractise-Based Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationInsights, Applications and Policy Implications
EditorsH. Melkas, V. Harmaakorpi
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages452
ISBN (Print)9783642217227
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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