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Innovation by demand

Innovation by demand: An interdisciplinary approach to the study of demand and its role in innovation

Andrew McMeekin
Ken Green
Mark Tomlinson
Vivien Walsh
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Innovation by demand
    Book Description:

    The structure and regulation of consumption and demand has recently become of great interest to sociologists and economists alike, and at the same time there is growing interest in trying to understand the patterns and drivers of technological innovation. This book, newly available in paperback, brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. The book starts with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption. It goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. Food consumption is then looked at as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially-constituted consumption routines. The book includes a number of illuminating case studies, including an analysis of how black Americans use consumption to express collective identity, and a number of demand–innovation relationships within matrices or chains of producers and users or other actors, including service industries such as security, and the environmental performance of companies. The involvement of consumers in innovation is looked at, including an analysis of how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. The final chapter argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-052-1
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Figures and tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Series foreword
    (pp. vii-vii)

    The CRIC–MUP series New Dynamics of Innovation and Competition is designed to make an important contribution to this continually expanding field of research and scholarship. As a series of edited volumes, it combines approaches and perspectives developed by CRIC’s own research agenda with those of a wide range of internationally renowned scholars. A distinctive emphasis on processes of economic and social transformation frames the CRIC research programme. Research on the significance of demand and consumption, on the empirical and theoretical understanding of competition and markets, and on the complex inter-organisational basis of innovation processes, provides the thematic linkage between...

  5. Contributors
    (pp. viii-viii)
  6. 1 Innovation by demand? An introduction
    (pp. 1-9)
    Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson and Vivien Walsh

    The structure and regulation of consumption and demand have recently become of great interest to sociologists and economists alike, ‘consumption’ being the focus of sociological accounts, whilst ‘demand’ has been the preserve of economists’ analyses. At the same time, there is growing interest, especially among economists, in trying to understand the patterns and drivers of technological innovation. The connection between consumption/demand and innovation suggests a number of interesting questions. How do macrosocial shifts influence patterns of consumption? How do firms and other organisations structure markets and create demand? How do perceptions of demand influence the innovative activities of firms? How...

  7. 2 Social mechanisms generating demand: a review and manifesto
    (pp. 10-22)
    Alan Warde

    This chapter reflects on the development of sociological approaches to consumption and their contribution to the explanation of consumer behaviour. Tentative and programmatic, it is concerned with defining some of the ways in which sociology might proceed in analysing consumption. It offers some record of recent developments and achievements. It is cast as a reflection on the limits of a key concept, conspicuous consumption, arguing that sociological explanations have paid too much attention to the visible and the remarkable and have therefore generalised too widely from acts of conspicuous consumption. A number of mechanisms which generate ordinary and inconspicuous consumption...

  8. 3 There’s more to the economics of consumption than (almost) unconstrained utility maximisation
    (pp. 23-40)
    G. M. Peter Swann

    This chapter was written in response to the presentation given at the CRIC workshop by Warde (Chapter 2 in this book). In summarising, Warde said that the main message of his paper was, perhaps, that there is more to the sociology of consumption than Thorstein Veblen. This is an important message, and relevant for two groups. First, to his fellow sociologists, that they should not be preoccupied with the exceptional and conspicuous forms of consumption. Second, to other social scientists – economists like this author, for example – that we should not form the wrong impression of where the sociology of consumption...

  9. 4 Variety, growth and demand
    (pp. 41-55)
    Pier Paolo Saviotti

    Modern economies contain a large number of entities (products, services, methods of production, competences, individual and organisational actors, institutions), which are qualitatively novel and different with respect to those existing in previous economic systems. In other words, the composition of the economic system has changed enormously during economic development. The observation that there has been a great deal of qualitative change in economic development would probably not be denied by any economist. Where, however, there would be differences is about the role of qualitative change. In order to facilitate the discussion two extreme hypotheses can be introduced: first, qualitative change...

  10. 5 Preferences and novelty: a multidisciplinary perspective
    (pp. 56-74)
    Wilhelm Ruprecht

    The literature on technological change and economic growth is implicitly biased towards the supply side. Research is mainly concerned with the question of how productive factors are accumulated. It matters less what companies produce or how they go about selling it. As Witt puts it:

    a sustained growth ofper capitaconsumption is explained by a continued relaxation of the budget constraint, i. e. by rising real income, explicitly or implicitly assuming that the demand for at least some of the consumption items on which the preference ordering is defined has not yet been satiated by current consumption or is...

  11. 6 Social routines and the consumption of food
    (pp. 75-87)
    Mark Tomlinson and Andrew McMeekin

    In this chapter we argue that considerations of routine behaviour are essential in order to gain a realistic understanding of consumption. There are useful insights from the evolutionary accounts of decision making in firms that can be transferred to the realm of consumer behaviour. To augment the notion of routine that emerges from this literature, and specifically to explore what is social about routines, we also draw on sociological accounts of consumption that identify the extent to which tastes are shared among groups within society. This conceptualisation is reinforced by recourse to statistical analysis of real consumption data from Great...

  12. 7 Social categorisation and group identification: how African-Americans shape their collective identity through consumption
    (pp. 88-111)
    Virág Molnár and Michèle Lamont

    This chapter analyses how a low-status group, black Americans, use consumption to express and transform their collective identity and acquire social membership, i.e. to signify and claim that they are full and equal members in their society. More broadly, we analyse the twin processes by which this group uses consumption to affirm for themselves their full citizenship and have others recognise them as such (what the literature on collective identity calls ‘group identification’ and ‘social categorisation’). We document these processes by drawing on exploratory interviews conducted with black marketing experts specialising in the African-American market who provide us with distinctive...

  13. 8 Hyperembedded demand and uneven innovation: female labour in a male-dominated service industry
    (pp. 112-128)
    Bonnie H. Erickson

    In service industries, demand for a service is inseparable from demand for the kind of people seen as suitable for providing the service. The fusion of service and service provider implies that using a new kind of person to provide a service is a true innovation, and one that may meet resistance to the extent that it violates entrenched expectations of who providers should be.

    One important example is women providing services once monopolised by men. This is a large-scale innovation, involving many people across many industries, part of the massive movement of women into paid employment that was one...

  14. 9 Greening organisations: purchasing, consumption and innovation
    (pp. 129-150)
    Ken Green, Barbara Morton and Steve New

    In this chapter we examine some previously ignored connections between processes of organisational purchasing and innovation in the context of the greening of organisations. We build an argument around the idea of consumption and we do so to problematise explicitly the issue of collective agency as it relates to organisations. In developing the argument, we ask: who is the consumer and what do consumers do? Despite the thriving field of research in organisational purchasing, it remains tempting to slip into a rather easy and prescriptive anthropomorphism when explaining what organisations do when ‘they’ buy things. Here, we use the interplay...

  15. 10 Information and communication technologies and the role of consumers in innovation
    (pp. 151-167)
    Leslie Haddon

    As a contribution to current discussions of the role of both actual consumers and representations of consumers in the innovation process, this chapter considers two empirical studies of the information and communication technology (ICT) industries. It asks:

    1 To what extent, how and when are consumers (i.e. potential end users) considered or involved during the design of new products?

    2 When consumers are actually involved in the process of innovation, what is the nature of their feedback?

    3 Are some end users considered more than others?

    4 What considerations and factors influence this overall pattern?

    In addition, one development, relatively...

  16. 11 The incorporation of user needs in telecom product design
    (pp. 168-186)
    Vivien Walsh, Carole Cohen and Albert Richards

    This chapter reports some observations of a user-oriented design project in a firm supplying telecommunications equipment. It is part of a larger project in which we also observed the design of a telecom service by a network of telecommunications service supply firms, and several projects in a consumer organisation which evaluates telecom and other electronic products and services. Our approach was to observe these projects as they were unfolding. The rationale for studying ongoing design work was to observe the process by which design decisions were made, while various options were being considered, and before each decision had become, in...

  17. 12 Markets, supermarkets and the macro-social shaping of demand: an instituted economic process approach
    (pp. 187-208)
    Mark Harvey

    A number of studies have taken a food commodity and analysed how it enters into consumption. One of the first and seminal ones, from which the above quotation was taken, was Mintz’s study of sugar inSweetness and Power(1986). More recently, Kurlansky (1999) has sketched a history of cod, and how it too entered into diets, notably through its complementarity with the slave trade. Zuckerman (1999) chose the potato as an instrument for asking a somewhat different question from these studies, namely, how the potato was adopteddifferentiallyby national cuisinesandclass diets from the time it first...

  18. Index
    (pp. 209-214)