Book Review: Research Handbook on Gender and Innovation by Gry Agnete Alsos, Ulla Hytti, and Elisabet Ljunggren.

AuthorLuminais, Misty
PositionBook review

Alsos, Gry Agnete, Ulla Hytti, and Elisabet Ljunggren, eds. Research Handbook on Gender and Innovation. Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2016. xiv + 284 pages. Hardcover, $175.00.

The new anthology, Research Handbook on Gender and Innovation, brings together a diverse set of perspectives on innovation, its influence on the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and theoretical approaches to understanding the interplay between gender and innovation. The editors, Gry Agnete Alsos, Ulla Hytti, and Elisabet Ljunggren, are all Nordic academic specialists in entrepreneurship, which imparts a distinctly European sensibility to the book. This offering greatly expands the current literature on gender and innovation, most of which focuses on women's entrepreneurship rather than the ways in which gender is analyzed.

First and foremost, all of the authors clearly define what they mean by innovation, some sticking to traditional definitions while others expanding the definition to encompass new concepts. This is an important step in understanding how innovation can be understood in a new light that takes gender into account. In accepted discourse, both academic and popular, innovation is often coded as a masculine activity focusing on technology and products. Pushing back against this concept, the authors Foss and Henry approach the theoretical aspects of this field in several ways--that is, as "gender-as-variable," "gender-as-relationship," and "gender-as-process"--with a particular focus on the latter two perspectives (p. 17).

The scope of the articles covers entrepreneurship, organizational contexts, policy, and design. In particular, the section on "Gender and Innovation in New and Small Businesses" pushes the reader to consider innovation outside of a Euro-American purview, which I found to be the most interesting application of the examination of gender as it pertains to innovation in unrecognized contexts. From a theoretical perspective, the authors draw on different traditions, for example, Amble, Axelsen, and Snerthammer write about an action research project that partnered with a group of women interested in making immediate changes to their work structures, while Kvidal-Rovik and Ljunggren make use of Foucault in a novel way to understand popular discourse. In addition, Poutanen and Kovalainen expand the classic theory of tokenism into an examination of intersectionality as seen through the lens of process tokenism.

Another interesting aspect of...

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