7.4 So what?
We have not included this section because we are arguing that innovation is dangerous or worthless. We would not be writing the course if we thought that! Rather – and as we noted previously – we want to encourage a critical approach to some of the claims that are so frequently made on behalf of inventions and innovations. Often these claims will come from people and organisations with vested interests in promoting a particular product or way of doing things. They also come from politicians who are trying to persuade us that technological innovation is the path to future prosperity. Our overarching point is this: The study of innovation suggests that although we benefit greatly from many innovations, many others which appear important will fall by the wayside and some innovations will even prove to cause serious problems. The trajectory of any particular innovation may thus be complex and unpredictable. The organisational forms we are creating may in some circumstances turn out to inhibit, rather than promote, genuine innovation. It may even be, as Gordon (2012) has argued, that innovation may not be enough to power the kind of economic growth that we have become used to and which policy-makers are working hard to try to recapture, in the West at least. Ultimately, therefore, our purpose in raising these critiques here is to encourage a more critical understanding of debates around technological innovation.