Prospera - Post-Growth innovation Lab

The feasibility and desirability of endless economic growth is increasingly being questioned by scholars and activists. While envisioning alternative economic models is key to assure the sustainability and wellbeing of present and future generations, few studies have analysed what might be the role of ‘innovation’ in a post- growth era. Innovating has become the imperative for the survival and expansion of any form of organisation. But this ‘innovate or die mania’ underpins assumptions – such as technological determinism and productivism that neglect the socially constructed character of technological development, its politics and its capacity to enable just and equitable societies but also dystopian technocratic futures. This project posits that untangling innovation from growth is key to imagining a post-growth era. If growth is going to be unsustainable, we need new narratives for innovation that would accordingly also have to change and increase the scope of the innovation concept itself, beyond technology, into cultural and institutional change, and indeed social life and social order. Organizations – in particular capitalist enterprises – are the core of modern industrial societies but are also one of the places in which the discourse of growth is legitimised and constantly reproduced. However, they can also be the places in which people can start to build the capacity for developing alternatives to challenges the growth ideology.
  • But how organizations would look like in a different paradigm, in a system that is not based on and doesn’t not rely on endless growth?
  • Under which conditions STI without growth would be able to flourish?
  • What levels of technological complexity can we reach in a non-growing economy?
  • What policies, infrastructures and organizational forms are needed or are more likely to facilitate this new paradigm of STI?
These are questions, rarely asked by innovation, management and organization scholars, that the proposed project will address.
“Prospering without growth: Science, Technology and Innovation in a post-growth era” is a project funded by the ERC Starting Grant 2020. The project started in February 2021 and it’s hosted by the University of Vigo and the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN). 947713 Grant Agreement. Budget 1,424,375.00 €

Today a lack of realism no longer consists in advocating greater well-being through the inversion of growth and the subversion of the prevailing way of life. Lack of realism consists in imagining that economic growth can still bring about increased human welfare, and indeed that it is still physically possible.

André Gorz