Innovation and Societal Discourses: The Emergence and Origins of Innovations

Christian Ankerstjerne Lysgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores the underlying and preceding determinants of innovations, which according to the argumentation of the thesis, often is overlooked or ignored due to a predominant emphasis on how companies can organize in order to benefit from and capitalize on already realized innovations. Thus, the present thesis attempts to take a step back and reveal the mechanism that determines the emergence of a particular innovation within society, and as such, a pivotal point of the thesis is to augment existing theory and contribute to a better understanding of the origin of innovations and how they emerge in society.
This is done through a critical assessment of some of the most popularized innovation literature, which reveals how and why these perspectives and approaches to innovation reveal little about how and why innovations emerge. A central assertion is that the reviewed literature is limited by its departure from economics in understanding the origins and emergence of innovations, which often means that the context in which innovations occur are not adequately analyzed due to a primary focus on developing tools and approaches to exploit or realize innovations. Accordingly, a broadening of scope is suggested and a framework that analyzes innovations as the outcome of societal discourses is proposed.
The suggested framework is based on the notion of overlapping societal spheres, accumulated cultural forms, and social discourses and by utilizing these analytical tools the thesis undercovers the emergence of the electric vehicle (EV). As it is the intention to augment the existing literature on innovation, the analysis also shows how the economic infused literature can be rightfully applied, and as such, is capable of explaining certain aspects of the EV case. However, the analysis of societal discourses reveals the underlying and preceding determinants for this particular innovation, as it becomes apparent through an identification and assessment of an environmental discourse and a coexisting discourse on personal transportation that the emergence of the EV is, to a large extent, discursively determined. The framework of the present thesis indicates a certain level of prediction that cannot be obtained by utilizing existing innovation literature. Therefore, the present thesis provides valuable insights for business strategy through a more fundamental understanding of innovations, as the preceding and underlying determinants for the emergence of a particular innovation can be assessed and analyzed, which enables a level of prediction that can be utilized by businesses.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages73
SupervisorsSudhanshu Rai