The Collective Structuring of Innovation : What is the Synergy Between Social and Technical Networks ?

June 20, 2002 - 12:00pm

Innovation is a collective process based on interactions in social and technical networks, among different actors, different fields, different cultures. With the development of information systems built to facilitate interactions inside and among the organizations, how do we understand this collective structuring of new concepts; new products, new tools, new ways of working?The study of the introduction of telework (telecommuting) in Electricite de France (the public energy supplier) clearly revealed the importance of the cultural and psychological aspects of communication in organizational change. This research permitted to clarify how the structuring of innovation was reliant on inter-human communication, and what were the possible limits of the information systems built to support this collective process. California presents a geographical concentration of "innovating" actors (laboratories, firms, experts and consultants) taking advantage of data processing and telecommunication networks in order to stimulate their research, design, production and marketing channels. Therefore, this region of the United States appears to be an excellent context for studying the interweaving of social and technical networks in the innovation process, especially in Research and Development.

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