Between Innovation and Tradition: French Design Schools, their Historical Roots and their Innovation System

Par Marco Bertilorenzi, Jean-Claude Ruano-Borbalan, Marc Le Coq

Over the last two decades, a new kind of learning programme to promote innovation and ‘individual creativity’ has seemed to flourish at the global level in numerous universities, engineering and business schools within industrial and emergent countries. If some are really well known, such as the Stanford D. School, many have been created within old institutions. In France, the empirical field of the article, one can count more than 20 innovation/design schools. These ‘innovation’ training courses are based on participative pedagogical approaches, often mainly related to ‘design thinking’ methods, linked to new technologies, multidisciplinary projects and prototyping activities. The article aims to consider design or innovation schools in France as a result of the complex interaction between the historical roots of French higher technical education and new education pathways arising from the transfer of an international standardised model that began in Stanford or the U.S.
JEL Codes: I21, 032, 039, M13


  • design schools
  • innovative education
  • business-education nexus
  • co-evolution
  • knowledge economy
  • engineering science
  • history of technology
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