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Unpacking European Living Labs: Analysing Innovation’s Social Dimensions

Author(s): Benoît Dutilleul | Frans A. J. Birrer | Wouter Mensink

Journal: Central European Journal of Public Policy
ISSN 1802-4866

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Living Labs | open innovation | collaboration and communication barriers

Since their official launch in 2006, over one hundred Living Labs have been established and networked to tackle Europe’s declining economic competitiveness and societal challenges. The innovative potential of Living Labs is based on new social configurations for organising innovation. Applying a framework that supports the description of such social configurations and that focuses on barriers manifested by motivational and cognitive asymmetries between actors, we analyse the contributions and impediments to innovation and identify the problems that characterise innovation in Living Labs. We demonstrate the framework’s analytical power to uncover and articulate contributions and challenges inherent to the ‘social dimension’ of innovation. At the same time, we pinpoint and examine some contributions of and challenges for Living Labs. On the basis of a literature review, we untangle and describe the three main facets of the Living Lab concept: as a setting for in vivo experimentation on social systems, for innovation and product development approaches involving users, and for innovation systems. We conclude by gathering some crucial questions facing contemporary Living Labs.
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