Innovation is the Answer! But is Development the Question? Assessing Innovation Against the Capabilities Approach to Development

Chris J. Barton, Gary M. Grossman, Yagana Hafed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recently, development has embraced the discourse of innovation. This has caused shifts in thinking about the roles the state, development institutions, and the poor themselves play in development. Innovation discourse calls on the poor to provide value for the market in the absence of the state, and by doing so contribute to the economic and social development of their communities. The poor are understood to have access to (non-financial) resources which can be leveraged to this end. However, it is rarely considered whether they possess the capabilities necessary to turn these resources into innovations. This article explores the implications of development's ‘innovation turn’ by analysing innovation-based development projects in light of the capabilities approach to development. We identify the innovation-based approach to development, provide a framework for assessing development projects and models against the Capabilities Approach, and assess innovation within that framework. We conclude that innovation does not necessarily lead to development. In certain cases, innovation may be a means by which development is achieved, but it is important to not confuse the means with the ends. Innovation is a different goal than development and achieving the former only advances the later when certain conditions are met.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Development Studies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • capabilities
  • development
  • entrepreneurial citizenship
  • entrepreneurship
  • grassroots innovation
  • Innovation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

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