Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2016.0138

Extant literature draws attention to the importance of science-push, demand-pull, and institutional-steering as mechanisms driving science-based innovations. We contribute to this literature by highlighting exaptation, which refers to the cooptation of existing traits for new functions. When applied to science-based innovations, exaptation refers to the emergence of functionalities for scientific discoveries that were unanticipated ex ante. We explore how exaptation can be induced through narrative properties (relationality, temporality, and performativity), and how serendipity arrangements such as exaptive pools, exaptive events, and exaptive forums can be structured to maintain, activate and contextualize scientific discoveries. We close the paper by discussing the implications of exaptation for academia, industry, and policy.

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