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Innovation-based needs or need-based innovations?

Classic literature in Psychology refers to human needs as existent, ready-to-fulfill. However, classic research in Innovation literature explained that the creative destruction of incumbents is not always derived through the available needs, rather by the spillover knowledge that can be applied to a non-trivial need.

The notion of creating a need or discovering it has been the focus of the debates between scholars in the marketing management field. Traditionally, universities (particularly pure science and big science fields) have been known as promoters of what implies the creative destruction of the established routines (e.g. needs, behaviors, etc.). On the other hand, the end-users and employees can bring the latent needs to reality by uncovering their unbeknownst. New technologies have enabled the exploitation process of latent needs. For instance, recent developments in the neuroscience field have empowered managers to perceive customer’s personality traits and consumer behavior better than before. Anecdotal and empirical evidence demonstrate that neuroscience facilitates the detection of unanswered needs.

Here, the question is whether neuroscience-enabled methods can also contribute to the creation of needs or not. This is important because, with an interventionist agenda that advocates policymaker’s role to enforce regulations in the market, we will be facing less disruptive and radical innovations if policymakers want to make a utopian neuroscience-based innovation system. One needs to be alert and attentive that one size doesn’t fit all by appreciating the contributions of science-push and technology-push innovations to the societies.


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Nicola Lattanzi