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Making a case for gender-inclusive innovation through the concept of creative imitation

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Author(s): Anders W. Johansson | Malin Lindberg

Journal: Annals of Innovation & Entrepreneurship
ISSN 2000-7396

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: innovation | gender | creativity | imitation | mimesis

ABSTRACT
Through creative imitation, this article aims to make the case for a more inclusive view on innovation related to gender. In entrepreneurship theory, innovation is usually associated with creativity as something extraordinary, followed by generalisations of how innovation is brought about, which are based upon dichotomies that lead to exclusion of those who are expected to innovate. Innovation policy tends to associate innovation with industrial, large-scale product development, to the neglect of other types of innovations. Therefore, policy and research both tend to disregard certain innovations that are pursued by certain actors in certain areas. In particular, women entrepreneurs are neglected, as are innovations within women-dominated industries. This marginalisation is, arguably, related to how innovation is conceptualised, which this article will scrutinise by means of gender theory and narrative theory. The article highlights the example of a businesswoman who has pursued innovation in the area of wedding arrangements, which represents one of the categories that have been marginalised in research and policy on innovation. The woman's story of one of her innovations is analysed based upon data collected at dialogue seminars. This illustrates how innovation – when regarded as a mediation between creativity and imitation – appears to be both extraordinary and everyday, as well as tied to the context in which it appears. This serves to bridge dichotomies and end up with an inclusive approach in terms of who is expected to innovate, where, and what. In so doing, this article challenges common assumptions regarding innovation and offers an original interpretation of how innovation is associated to imitation and gendered relations.
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