Thursday, April 28, 2005

Trend Survey Innovation Communication

It’s hard to communicate the difference between “invention” and “innovation”. While an invention is a solution on a problem, an innovation is an invention that has been put into practice. A nail is an invention. Nailing a fence is an innovation. It’s innovations that create growth, not the inventions.

In Sweden hardly any media covers “innovation”, only “inventions” and “inventors”. I did a quick search in the full-text databases Affärsdata, Mediearkivet och Presstext and found 912 articles containing the word “innovationssystem” – “Innovation System”, out of more than 10 million articles in Swedish press and recorded broadcasts since 1982. That is 0.01 percent.

It’s not a Swedish phenomenon. Even in German companies and research institutions have a hard time making new ideas, products, and technologies publicly known, even if German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder branded it the “year of innovations”.

The German MFG Baden-Württemberg Agency for IT and Media, together with the Department of Communication Studies and Journalism at the University of Hohenheim, made an interesting survey, INNOVATE 2004, on the topic of how journalists and corporate communication experts look on “innovations”. The results of the survey is published (only in German, unfortunately) in a report.

Some of the results include:

  • Every second journalist and more than 40% of the corporate communication experts were of the opinion that companies do not provide sufficient material on innovations.
  • A second reason for the press coverage below average was – self-critically – identified as lying in shortcomings of the media themselves: two thirds of the interviewees believed that a lack of specialized knowledge among journalists prevented a more extensive coverage.
  • The inflational use of the term “innovation” is also perceived as a barrier to successful Innovation Communication.


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