Rethinking innovation: context and gender
Geographers have a keen interest in innovation because of its connection to regional economic advantage. We argue that, to date, understandings of innovation are predominantly technological and product driven and defined in universal terms such that the nature of innovation is stripped of its contextual influence and is overly masculinist. Through combined analysis of interview material from two complementary studies on the gendering of entrepreneurship based in the United States, this paper challenges current conceptualisations of innovation within geography. We show how the context, both social and geographical, of an innovation is elementary to its identification as innovative. Moreover, we reveal some of the many instances of innovation that occur in economic sectors and by agents that are typically ignored or undervalued by current research and by policy. Our analysis challenges researchers and policymakers to expand their concepts of regional and urban development beyond those processes associated with technologically defined and growth-oriented originality, such that notions of local development may enhance the social well-being of places and be more gender inclusive.
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