Despite the immense technological innovation and proliferation of recent years, research reveals that new concepts and applications are often the product of derivations and enhancements of existing patents. Recombination—Ford professor Jason Owen-Smith asserts—creates “interesting innovations today [that] are the result of existing knowledge and technologies that have probably not been combined before.”
Adi Gaskell’s November 12, 2018 Innovative Excellence blog post, “How Universities Support Recombinative Innovation,” cites how universities perform a crucial role in facilitating and inspiring recombinative initiatives from Professor Owen-Smith’s new book Research Universities. While an environment of competition often incentivizes privatization that makes new developments “inaccessible when the time comes to find and use them,” universities make such knowledge “always available for outsiders.”
Recombinative innovations aim to resolve new social and economic problems in various areas in a multitude of ways. As Professor Owen-Smith argues “atypical combinations are often the source of higher-impact discoveries” and universities provide the most hospitable conditions for fostering the dissemination of knowledge and new pioneering initiatives.
Jason Owen-Smith is a professor of sociology, as well as a public policy professor at the Ford School. Professor Owen-Smith is also the Barger Leader Institute Professor of Organizational Studies, a research professor in the Institute for Social Research at UM where he directs the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS).