BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Rowley, Jennifer. Being an information innovator. London: Facet Publishing, 2010. xvi, 189 p. ISBN 978-1-85604-671-8. £44.95.
This book has reached readers by the end of last year, but I had no time to review it for the previous issue of Information Research, which appeared in January. I believe, however, that it is not too late to recommend it to people in information organizations. It is definitely too late to include it in next years reading lists for students at library and information science schools, but I hope that there will be time to use it in some ways for teaching puposes, because of its very pedagogical way of presenting the material. I actually think that this is a specific feature of Jennifer Rowley as an author. She is a natural educationalist and most of her books are well adapted to learning purposes, but also for the use in teaching process.
The structure of the book and each chapter is introduced already in the introduction (p. xv) and that very structure explains the basic nature of the book as a learning aid. Each chapter starts with learning objectives and includes issues for reflection, lists of challenges, review questions for self-assessment, group discussion topics, a necessary element of a summary and conclusions and additional reading lists. These elements are not only present in the chapters - they are well thought through and high quality. They serve as guidelines for an engaged reader and make much easier the job of a teacher willing to include the discussed topics.
These are visible and easily detected educational elements, but the same natural pedagogy can be detected throughout the book. The main problems of innovation and entrepreneurship, such as definitions of concepts, their relation to the practical challenges and implementation of the ideas in organizations, are presented in the first chapter. Here only the basic outline can be found and later each moment presented in this chapter is followed up in detail in later chapters.
The four following chapters discuss separately the issues of innovation (chapter 2 co-authored by Anahita Baregheh), the concept of entrepreneurship in different environments (chapter 3 co-authored by Siwan Mitchelmore), issues of innovative organizations and leadership for innovation (chapter 4) and innovation in practice (chapter 5).
The concepts presented in the book are not simplified and one can find a range of perspectives introduced on each of the subjects under discussion. However, there is always a clear-cut perspective of the authors on the perspective and definition taken in the book that is coherently followed in each of the chapters. The red thread is quite easy to follow and it also helps to absorb the material presented in the book. I can imagine that it should help also the process of implementing innovations to those who would choose to follow the recommended paths.
One can argue without stop about the concept of innovation or what is the crucial feature of entepreneurship that will define it as a specific activity, especially in big corporate and public organizations. As far as it concerns my opinion I would think that freedom of individual actions and as a concequence full and undivided responsibility for their consequences are the main characteristics of entrepreneurship. Therefore, entrepreneurship outside individual private sector can only be limited, because, first, the freedom of action of an individual is severely restricted in most of them and, second, most of the negative consequences will be absorbed by an organization too. But this is a minor point as it does not mean that some entrepreneural skills and opportunistic actions cannot be undertaken in a most strictly regulated environments. Information organizations have room for them and can benefit from both innovation process and entrepreneurial approaches in various ways as the authors of the book prove.
I would also like to draw attention to the co-authors of the two first chapters in the book. Both of them come from Bangor University and are researchers in the main book subjects. Siwan Mitchelmore has a PhD in Business studies and her basic interests are entrepreneurship and small business. Anahita Baragheh is a doctoral student at Bangor University writing her thesis on innovation. So, both authors complement the expertise and knowledge of Jennifer Rowley in information organizatiions and contribute significantly to the trustworthiness of the book.