4 Industrialist and Inventor: Alfred Nobel’s Dynamite Invention

4.1. Introduction

Economists became interested in innovation quite recently; yet for historians, it has been a constant in the history of humanity [CON 11, DAU 62, GIB 94, GIL 78]. No human society survives without innovation. Although Karl Marx wrote in the middle of the 19th Century that capitalism cannot exist without revolutionizing the forces of production, he did not identify an economic actor that favored a systemic process. Joseph Schumpeter, on the contrary, clearly identified the entrepreneur as an economic actor who introduces innovation. Later, the company replaced the entrepreneur [FOR 14], but the innovation process remains difficult to understand because of the plurality of actors (entrepreneur, scientist, worker, user, government). Recent research tends to favor, quite correctly, the idea that innovation is the result of a collective process in which these different actors participate to some degree, in which the distinction between science and technology is erased in favor of a hybridization of knowledge. This idea was notably developed with the work on “open innovation” [CHE 03], where a whole range of actors participated in the realization of inventions long before it was theorized [HIL 00, HIL 16]. What must be stressed is that companies, scientists, and engineers working in companies, universities and research centers are integral parts of an economic system based on planned continuous innovation. ...

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