Conway, S. (2008), "Innovation and Entrepreneurship", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 121-124. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550810863107
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Innovation and entrepreneurship are frequently taught as separate and distinct final year undergraduate or postgraduate elective modules on business and management programmes. Given the balance and treatment of the material in these two subject areas within Innovation and Entrepreneurship, it would appear that the text is far more suitable for “innovation” rather than “entrepreneurship” courses. Indeed, it is hard to see how this book could compete with the depth and breadth of existing entrepreneurship texts. As an innovation text, however, the chapters on the entrepreneur and new ventures, on social entrepreneurship, and on sustainability, are useful additions and extensions.
Setting aside the plethora of practitioner books, innovation course texts divide into two clear categories; collections of readings and authored texts. The former generally incorporate a careful selection of seminal articles across a breadth of topics, but are often poorly integrated and offer few pedagogical props for supporting the learning process. The latter, whilst much stronger in their provision of learning aids, through for example, a diverse range of contemporary cases, exercises, and directed further reading, are often much weaker in their theoretical underpinning. Innovation and Entrepreneurship by John Bessant and Joe Tidd falls very clearly into this latter category.
With regard to the intended audience, the back cover states that the book has been “developed for courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level … [as] an accessible introductory text written primarily for students of business and management studies”. Whilst in relation to orientation, Bessant and Tidd contend in the preface that “most texts tend to be too theoretical, whereas innovation and entrepreneurship are inherently about management practice and creating change”. In attempting to address this, the authors place emphasis on application rather than in‐depth discussion of theory, and draw upon a wide range of pedagogical devices to support this learning approach.
Broadly, the book includes the breadth of topics that one would expect of a course text on innovation, incorporating material on, for example, the climate for promoting innovation, the new product and service development process, the creation and sharing of knowledge, networks and networking, discontinuity, and national systems of innovation. The text is approximately 450 pages in length and is divided into twelve chapters, unevenly grouped into four parts: part one concerns “principles”, and introduces a range of concepts, such as radical and incremental innovation, the interactive model of innovation, and innovation networks (chapters 1 to 3); part two covers “context”, where a key distinction is made between innovation in the manufacturing and service sectors (chapters 4 and 5); part three concerns “practice”, and includes chapters on knowledge creation and transfer, exploiting discontinuity, new entrepreneurship and new ventures, social entrepreneurship, growth and sustainability, and globalisation and development (chapters 6 to 11). The book closes with part four, labelled “action”, comprising of a single chapter that seeks to bring together the lessons from the earlier chapters to provide guidance for the improvement of innovative and entrepreneurial capability. The overall ordering and grouping of the chapters did not work well for me, and is perhaps more effective and clearer in other texts. For example, Smith (2006), organizes his chapters into four fairly evenly balanced sections, labelled as follows: Part 1 – “What is innovation?”; Part 2 – “What does innovation involve?”; Part 3 – “How do you manage innovation?”, and Part 4 – “How do you foster innovation?”
The explicit choice of approach by the authors noted above, that is, the emphasis on practice and application would appear to be at the heart of both the strengths and weaknesses of the book. Whilst the text is clear, accessible, and concise, allowing for a free‐flowing discussion and distillation of a wide range of relevant concepts, theories, and research findings, from the innovation and entrepreneurship literature, it lacks the depth of conceptual and theoretical engagement that one might expect of a final year undergraduate or postgraduate course. For this reason, the further readings and resources provided at the end of each chapter are an important addition. Furthermore, and although I suspect there was a conscious choice by the authors not to overburden the text with numerous and superfluous references, I did feel that many of the chapters were short on referencing. Indeed, half of the twelve chapters referenced seven or less sources. Given the scope of the material and the level of student the text is aimed at, this seems rather meagre.
The discussion within each chapter is supported by a wide range of pedagogical props; each chapter opens with a clear set of learning objectives, and is littered with tables, graphics, and boxed commentaries, which provide “Advice for Managers”, highlight the “Strategic and Social Impact”, and reveal examples of “Innovation in Action” and “Entrepreneurship in Action”. Whilst these props are obviously designed to help the student bridge the gap between theory and practice, for me they fragmented and cluttered the text too much and became rather a distraction. Each chapter closes with a chapter summary, key terms, further readings, references, discussion questions, team exercises, assignment and case study questions, and a case‐study. Again, whilst these are all individually useful, collectively they feel a little over the top. Given the book is supported by an “interactive web resource”, incorporating multiple choice tests, and additional case studies and exercises, perhaps some of this material might have been off‐loaded onto the web. Having said that, I can see why it might be useful to both the lecturer and student to have all of these elements located in one place, especially if the text is to be used heavily in tutorials.
Whether or not this book is appropriate depends on the intended approach to the subject matter i.e. application versus theoretical; the text is much stronger on the former rather than the latter, which is perhaps not at all surprising given this was the intention of the authors! Appropriateness also depends on the programme and level at which the text is intended to support. As a stand‐alone course text I could see this as a very useful introductory book for an innovation module on an engineering degree. However, unless it was supplemented by additional readings, it is less useful for business and management students on either the final year of an undergraduate programme or on a postgraduate degree. The book is priced at £32.99. This compares well with other equivalent course texts, which range from £29.99 to £41.99, and represents good value for money given the breadth of the text, the range of pedagogical devices employed, and the availability of additional web resources.
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