chapter  11
24 Pages

Cultures and Innovation: Sally Gee and Ian Miles


In this chapter we explore the cultural dimensions of innovation, particularly the ways in which culture shapes and creates the preconditions for creativity, innovation and diff usion. ‘Culture’ can be understood and approached in many ways. In this chapter we understand culture as the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning (Bates and Plog, 1990). Following on from the previous chapter, we distinguish between values, attitudes and practices, which are elements of culture, choosing to focus on cultural diff erences at the national and organizational levels (Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952). Attitudes to risk and entrepreneurship, novelty and tradition, and conformity and transgression are among the features of culture that will obviously bear upon innovation in the 21st century. ‘Attitudes’, and the related idea of ‘values’ that may be thought of as the deeper symbolic structures from which attitudes about more immediate experiences are generated, are often thought of as matters of individual psychology. Nevertheless, the ways in which attitudes are formed and communicated, and values and cultural judgments are embodied in material artifacts and in rules and regulations, are inherently social and transpersonal, providing a cultural context to innovation and innovative activity.