Cooperating for innovation: devices for collective exploration

Innovation activities face a threefold challenge today: they build on the advancement of science and include an increasingly strong technological component; they involve a growing number of actors, among whom large corporations, high-technology start-ups, public research organizations, and user associations; they are to take into account various stakeholders’ concerns which extend beyond a mere economic or financial logic. In other words, innovation becomes – or at least attempts to become – increasingly disruptive, open, and responsible.

The uncertainty inherent to innovation hence bears not only on the odds of success, but also on the nature of scientific knowledge to build and leverage, on the identity of partners to enroll, and on the evaluation criteria to rely on. Marked by this threefold uncertainty, innovation regimes pertain to the exploration of new possibilities, rather than the exploitation of things already known, as James March famously put it.

The conference will investigate new forms of organizing collective action given the uncertainty inherent in exploratory innovation. This issue will be addressed through the analysis of practices and devices that are put forward and tried out to equip collective exploration activities.