From Organizations to Organizational Fields: The Evolution of Civic Innovation Ecosystems

  • Claudel M
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Contemporary approaches to urban technology emphasize local “innovation ecosystems”. Two organizational models – living labs and innovation integrators – are commonly used as hubs to broker these ecosystems. Curiously, both coexist in some cities, allowing a comparison of their impact and an analysis of their development over time and in context. The case studies presented in this article suggest that our analytical frameworks for technology policy may fall short, in that they contemplate only the organizations themselves – the living labs or innovation integrators. The dynamics observed in each city are well articulated, however, in the sociotechnical systems literature. The hub can be understood as a “niche”, which fosters radical innovations and new processes. As these prototypes are increasingly deployed and accepted, there is a regime shift, ultimately creating an experimentalist culture that fills the role previously held by the hub. This conclusion is neither a challenge to ecosystem theory nor a critique of innovation policy and its implementation. Rather, I suggest that we must extend these theoretical frameworks, drawing on sociotechnical systems literature to better account for institutions and for systems change as we design policy for urban technology. This article therefore makes a contribution by using a sociotechnical systems lens to explain the evolution of local urban innovation ecosystems.




Claudel, M. (2018). From Organizations to Organizational Fields: The Evolution of Civic Innovation Ecosystems. Technology Innovation Management Review, 8(6), 34–47.

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