Proceedings of the British Academy of Management Conference BAM 2020
Innovation has transformed, and continues to transform, our world. Innovation creates new products, new technologies, and new business models. Our knowledge of how to manage the innovation process, and the organisational systems used to guide it, has grown in depth and sophistication. However, while the benefits of innovation are there for all to see, the negative impact on society and the environment are difficult to ignore. We are at a pivotal moment in the history of innovation where our ideas of how innovation should be managed and directed are undergoing profound change. The models of innovation that dominate today reflect the goals of the profit-making enterprise. These goals shape project selection, resource allocation, and marketing strategy. The negative externalities of this model - the costs to society and the environment - were always visible but were tolerated as necessary for economic growth. As we come to realise that growth at any price is no longer acceptable, we also see that it is not enough for innovation to focus on new products and new technologies. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis reveals this most clearly: innovation can and should be mobilized to address urgent social and medical needs. Looking into the future, as we seek to revitalize the economy after the crisis, we have to affirm that managing the innovation process should take into consideration responsibility to society and the environment.