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Appetite for Innovation


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Table of Contents

1. Context and Vision
2. From Chaos to Order: ElBulli's System of Continuous Innovation
3. Diffusion and Institutionalization of Innovation
4. The Bittersweet Taste of Relentless Innovation
5. Cooking Up a New Organization

About the Author

M. Pilar Opazo is a postdoctoral associate and lecturer in the Work and Organization Studies group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She is the coauthor of two Spanish-language volumes, Communications of Organizations and Negotiation: Competing or Collaborating, and her work has been published in Sociological Theory and the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science.


Appetite for Innovation offers a backstage view of one of the world's most interesting restaurants, its remarkable laboratory, and the foundation that was created after Ferran Adrià made the unusual decision to close his hugely successful restaurant. M. Pilar Opazo was afforded unusually close access, and her insider account is rich and intriguing. The processual view of innovation is useful, as it highlights the many elements that are needed to be galvanized in support of an expansive vision.
*Walter W. Powell, Stanford University*

Opazo gives us the inside story of elBulli, a restaurant whose climb to global influence mirrors the culture of today's innovation economy, and its charismatic chef Ferran Adrià, whose passion for creating a new cuisine is driven as much by science as by art. This book will fascinate all kinds of innovators and entrepreneurs—and those who want to understand how a creative organization works.
*Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places*

Itself an exemplar of creativity and innovation, Appetite for Innovation opens elBulli to reveal the systematic structures and practices that brought world renown to a small restaurant in the mountains of Spain. A beautifully written, analytically sharp ethnography, Opazo's book is a must-read for organizations of all kinds, scholars, chefs, entrepreneurs, culture specialists, and foodies everywhere.
*Diane Vaughan, Columbia University*

The tendency when discussing the success of elBulli has been simply to proclaim the genius of chef Ferran Adrià, but Opazo shows that genius is not enough. To have an impact beyond a narrow coterie requires a disciplined and organized inventory of accomplishments and the ability to win over adherents. She thus reveals the infrastructure of success and the paradoxical relationship between willingness to destroy previous accomplishments and practices to push forward an unstable creativity.
*Paul Freedman, Yale University*

Innovation? Creativity? Opazo poses the perennially vexatious question of their relationship. The answers that this illuminating study suggests bear both on the sociology of organizations and the organization of creativity. In an ethnographic investigation of Ferran Adriá's celebrated restaurant, Opazo brings to bear the sociologist's attention to social structure, the historian's understanding of archives, and the journalist's feel for the striking detail. Appetite for Innovation is as great a pleasure to read as it is profitable to contemplate.
*Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Columbia University*

Working at the creative intersection of organizational sociology, and sociology of knowledge and culture, Opazo provides a sharp framing of the routinization of innovation and charisma at elBulli, the highest ranked restaurant in the over-heated world of haute cuisine. In the process she pushes the ethnography of the commercial kitchen towards the study of scientific laboratories and art worlds, investigating their epistemic practices, organizational innovations and creative rhetorics. Appetite for Innovation is a terrific book to study and teach organizational innovation and field transformation.
*Krishnendu Ray, New York University, president of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, and author of The Ethnic Restaurateur*

Opazo has written a fascinating organizational and business analysis of the restaurant and, in the process, produced an insightful account of how a culture of innovation can be achieved and sustained.

Opazo examines elBulli with a sharp sociological eye, creating a detailed case study in what she calls the 'production of innovation.'

Opazo's investigation will engage anyone interested in the intersection of business, creativity and organizational behaviour.
*The Toronto Star*

Appetite for Innovation is a well-written, organizational study about the factory of innovation that elBulli was and the foundation it became; certainly a fascinating read for academics, innovators, and chefs alike.
*Food, Culture, and Society*

Lays bare the creative process in more detail than almost anything I've read and enriches the debate about where true creativity comes from.
*Contemporary Sociology*

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