Does America Need More Innovators?

From Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series

Does America Need More Innovators?

Edited by Matthew Wisnioski, Eric S. Hintz and Marie Stettler Kleine

A critical exploration of today's global imperative to innovate, by champions, critics, and reformers of innovation.




Open Access


A critical exploration of today's global imperative to innovate, by champions, critics, and reformers of innovation.

The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from the MIT Libraries.

Corporate executives, politicians, and school board leaders agree—Americans must innovate. Innovation experts fuel this demand with books and services that instruct aspiring innovators in best practices, personal habits, and workplace cultures for fostering innovation. But critics have begun to question the unceasing promotion of innovation, pointing out its gadget-centric shallowness, the lack of diversity among innovators, and the unequal distribution of innovation's burdens and rewards. Meanwhile, reformers work to make the training of innovators more inclusive and the outcomes of innovation more responsible. This book offers an overdue critical exploration of today's global imperative to innovate by bringing together innovation's champions, critics, and reformers in conversation. 

The book presents an overview of innovator training, exploring the history, motivations, and philosophies of programs in private industry, universities, and government; offers a primer on critical innovation studies, with essays that historicize, contextualize, and problematize the drive to create innovators; and considers initiatives that seek to reform and reshape what it means to be an innovator.

Contributors Errol Arkilic, Catherine Ashcraft, Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, W. Bernard Carlson, Lisa D. Cook, Humera Fasihuddin, Maryann Feldman, Erik Fisher, Benoît Godin, Jenn Gustetic, David Guston, Eric S. Hintz, Marie Stettler Kleine, Dutch MacDonald, Mickey McManus, Sebastian Pfotenhauer, Natalie Rusk, Andrew L. Russell, Lucinda M. Sanders, Brenda Trinidad, Lee Vinsel, Matthew Wisnioski


$45.00 X | £38.00 ISBN: 9780262536738 410 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 45 figures


Matthew Wisnioski

Matthew Wisnioski is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and the author of Engineers for Change: Competing Visions of Technology in 1960s America (MIT Press).

Eric S. Hintz

Eric S. Hintz is Historian at the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History.

Marie Stettler Kleine

Marie Stettler Kleine is a PhD candidate in Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech.


  • In the 20th century, innovation and entrepreneurship were thought of as solitary and heroic individual effort. Now in the 21st century we've developed methodologies, programs, and curricula to help make it scale. This book provides a lively look at the Champions, Critics and Reformers of those programs. It offers important lessons for today's innovators and those who train them.

    Steve Blank

    entrepreneur, educator, and author of The Startup Owner's Manual

  • Today, 'innovation' has the same talismanic ring to it as 'national security' did during the Cold War. But, as in the past, some experts wonder if too much emphasis is placed on entrepreneurs and innovation. This much-needed volume, with essays from noted champions, skeptics, and critics, offers a critical, scholarly perspective on this vital topic. By the book's end, readers will see that calls for more innovation are embedded in a rich historical, economic, and cultural context.

    W. Patrick McCray

    Professor, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara


$45.00 X | £38.00 ISBN: 9780262536738 410 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 45 figures