Maastricht reflections on innovation

Luc Soete


"Innovation is good for you" appears actually the common feature of most science, technology and innovation studies over the last decades. This appears, however surprising given the fact that innovation failure rather than innovation success appears a much more common feature. Hence the simple, but straightforward question which will be central in this Tans lecture: could it be that innovation is not always good for you?

A frequently heard argument is that at a societal level, innovation is renewing society’s dynamics and hence leading to higher levels of economic development and welfare. A process of creative destruction destroying maybe a few incumbents to the benefit though of many newcomers. However, sometimes the exact opposite pattern: a process of destructive innovation, benefiting a few at the expense of many, will occur.

In this period of "crises" examples abound of such destructive creation processes. In this Tanslecture some typical examples will be highlighted: our unsustainable fossil-fuel based economic growth at the global level; European monetary integration at the European level; financial innovation at the sectoral level.

The Tans Lecture is organized every year to honour dr. J. Tans (1912-1993), the founding father of Maastricht University.

JEL Codes: O17, O31, O33, O43, F55, G01

Keywords: Innovation, Creative Destruction, Destructive Creation, Economic Growth, International Relations, Financial Crisis

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