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Searching through the jungle of innovation conceptualisations: System, network and ecosystem perspectives

Tiziana Russo-Spena (Department of Economics, Management and Institution, University of Naples “Federico II”, Naples, Italy)
Marco Tregua (Department of Economics, Management and Institution, University of Naples “Federico II”, Naples, Italy)
Francesco Bifulco (Department of Economics, Management and Institution, University of Naples “Federico II”, Naples, Italy)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 11 September 2017

1456

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the interdisciplinary debate promoted by service research community by establishing the conceptual frame within which different perspectives addressing systemic and multifaceted approaches to innovation are framed. Growing research interest in innovation has led to different definitions, which are referred to here as “innovation system(s)”, “innovation network(s)” and “innovation ecosystem(s)”. The paper examines the theoretical foundations, outcomes, and patterns of contributions to which each innovation perspectives is tied and proposed a subject and the framework allowing an exploration of an interdisciplinary dialogue between the different research positions.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review was conducted to discern differences in concepts and their meanings. An overview obtained using Web of Knowledge leads to a focus on studies, followed by a content analysis using NVivo, which enables identification of key concepts and their definitions. By highlighting relationships among terms, the paper establishes a framework of the ontological assumptions of different innovation discourses and explores their contribution to the interdisciplinary dialogue promoted by service research perspective on innovation.

Findings

A comparison among the three innovation perspectives leads us to focus on innovation itself, alongside context, actors, enablers, and governance, which are useful to mark the commonalities and differences among the three research approaches. The framework is helpful to break down the fragmented and sometimes overlapping points of view of innovation and provides a more integrative stance from which to address the emergence of the service ecosystems approach on innovation.

Research limitations/implications

The investigation focuses on three innovation perspectives and on top-cited articles alone; hence, it can be complemented with a full analysis through a bibliometric approach to test whether the features highlighted are linked to other elements. Moreover, the different approaches grouped on “innovation ecosystems” perspective suggest the possibility to enhance service ecosystems discourse on innovation by looking at different knowledge and contributions that are rapidly growing in this area.

Social implications

The central idea this work puts forward is that after some decades of separation, there is a need to move towards an increasing convergence of economics, business and service based on the milestones of innovation systems, innovation networks, and innovation ecosystems thoughts.

Originality/value

This research sheds light on the different ways innovation, in multi-actor and the interconnected setting, is theoretically framed and described. By capturing established thinking in different innovation perspectives, the paper provides an integrated framework to making sense of the full picture of economies and societies seen as complex networks and systems of service systems.

Keywords

Citation

Russo-Spena, T., Tregua, M. and Bifulco, F. (2017), "Searching through the jungle of innovation conceptualisations: System, network and ecosystem perspectives", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 977-1005. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTP-10-2015-0224

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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