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Manifesto: Adrian Smith - Grassroots/bottom up innovation


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The STEPS Centre Symposium, 26 September 2009, focused on our Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto project. This presentation by Geoff Adrian Smith was one of those given at the event. For more information see:

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Manifesto: Adrian Smith - Grassroots/bottom up innovation

  1. 1. <ul><li>Grassroots/bottom up innovation: how to facilitate emergence and flourishing </li></ul><ul><li>Adrian Smith </li></ul><ul><li>STEPS and SPRU, University of Sussex </li></ul><ul><li>STEPS Symposium, 24 th September 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Brighton </li></ul>
  2. 2. Grassroots innovation from a socio-technical perspective Markets Infrastructure Distribution networks Appropriate knowledge Risk and uncertainty strategies Committed and resourceful participants Business/organisational models Social acceptability Capabilities and skills Social values Key technologies Grassroots innovators need considerable social agency in order to align the material, institutional and discursive elements necessary for a ‘working socio-technical practice’: Idealists and entrepreneurs Institutions (norms and rules) Etc. Work that is about knowledge, technique, organisation, economy, and politics Source: RTS
  3. 3. <ul><li>Prevailing innovation systems and wider modes of provision (socio-technical regimes) </li></ul><ul><li>cast grassroots activity in a disadvantageous light due to a variety of interdependent path-dependencies: </li></ul><ul><li>Capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Economics </li></ul><ul><li>Vested interests </li></ul><ul><li>Politics and power </li></ul><ul><li>Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Technological and user cultures </li></ul><ul><li>A mix of social and technological, material and discursive processes reinforce one another, directing developments along existing pathways, and disadvantaging alternative developments </li></ul><ul><li>BUT! </li></ul><ul><li>these regimes are under pressure too (e.g. environmental change, social pressure, demography, development ideologies, internal dynamics and contradictions); </li></ul><ul><li>instabilities provide opportunities for alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>policies and programmes for grassroots innovation need also to unsettle these regimes </li></ul>Indifferent mainstream innovation policy aspiration
  4. 4. A multi-level perspective on grassroots innovation Source: Geels (2002) Socially inclusive pathways Dominant / excluding modes of provision Diffusion Scaling-up Translation Grassroots innovations Internal dynamics and contradictions Environmental change, social pressure, demography, development ideologies