Reconsidering Innovation: Dreamed surplus and the Value of Professional Practice

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearch


Innovation and reforms seem to be on the agenda everywhere, not least in political attempts to reorganize the public sector in ways that are supposed to enable our welfare societies to survive economic turmoil and sinister future prognosis. This paper examines how classical anthropological theories and debates about change, myths, and othering can help us rethink theoretical approaches to innovation in organizational studies, and the concern is especially to consider the implications that our “innovation myths” can have for public employees and the valuation their work. The argument in the paper is that innovation is better understood as a perspective (a prism) than as a product or a process, and that this perspective tends to “other” people who’s work is not visible as a positive asset in a budget, but may be visible as a positive contribution in people’s lives. The way in which that point is made, is by taking the reader along on a journey through a fieldwork that changed my own understanding of innovation, made me look for alternative theories to address cultural understandings of change and continuity in organizational settings, and brought me back to myths of creation, Claude Lévi-Strauss and the debate about people without history.
Translated title of the contributionInnovation revurderet: Forestillet overskud og værdien af professionel praksis
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEGOS - Colloquium - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 3 Jul 20145 Jul 2014
Conference number: 30th


ConferenceEGOS - Colloquium


  • innovation
  • collaborative innovation
  • innovation as perspective
  • innovation myths


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