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Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 408321
Title Rethinking Communication in Innovation Processes: Creating Space for Change in Complex Systems
Author(s) Leeuwis, C.; Aarts, N.
Source Journal of agricultural education and extension 17 (2011)1. - ISSN 1389-224X - p. 21 - 36.
Department(s) Communication Science
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Abstract This paper systematically rethinks the role of communication in innovation processes, starting from largely separate theoretical developments in communication science and innovation studies. Literature review forms the basis of the arguments presented. The paper concludes that innovation is a collective process that involves the contextual re-ordering of relations in multiple social networks. Such re-ordering cannot be usefully understood in terms of ‘diffusing’ ready-made innovations. Hence, we need to think about communication as playing a role in innovation development and ‘design’. In such development processes, everyday communicative exchanges and self-organisation among societal agents are likely to be of critical significance in connection with the re-ordering of social relationships. In this light, the role of communication professionals and deliberate communication is often overstated or misinterpreted. Instead of striving for predefined change, communication professionals should facilitate that ‘the potential for change’ in complex dynamical settings increases. This includes efforts to enhance the survival chances of existing initiatives for change, by facilitating that they become more effectively adapted and/or linked to their dynamic selection environment than competing initiatives. This implies that communication professionals must play broader intermediary roles than before. A systematic rethinking of the role of communication in innovation processes in view of recent developments in communication sciences, innovation studies and complex systems thinking is largely absent. This paper fills a void.
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