Unlocking a lock-in: towards a model of technological succession

Windrum, Paul (1999). Unlocking a lock-in: towards a model of technological succession. UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda. UNU-MERIT.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Windrum, Paul
    Title Unlocking a lock-in: towards a model of technological succession
    Series Title UNU-MERIT Research Memoranda
    Volume/Issue No. 10
    Publication Date 1999
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Language eng
    Abstract This paper has three objectives. First, it seeks to set an agenda in which technologicalsuccessions can be meaningfully discussed. Second, it aims to establish the necessaryconditions under which a technological succession may occur. Third, in establishing thisset of conditions, the paper identifies some useful analytical tools which could beemployed in a formal model of technological transitions.Opening up the research agenda on transition phases from established to newtechnologies is a key issue in discussions of technological evolution and its impacts onsociety and the environment. Given the increasing returns to adoption enjoyed by anestablished technology, it is necessary to investigate the conditions under which it ispossible for technological succession to occur. In so doing, the paper takes on board theimportant insights into increasing returns to adoption and path dependency made by thelock-in literature but places these within a new, more general, historical setting.A number of steps need to be taken when preparing the ground for a formal model oftechnological succession. First, one must have a clear definition of the elementsnecessary to operationalise the concept of succession in the social domain. Second, thepaper offers an interpretation of previous work on socio-technology paradigms, wherebythese are viewed as a set of coupled selection mechanisms that shape the rate anddirection of technological innovation. Third, a socio-technical matrix approach is used inorder to appreciate the way in which agents ' with heterogeneous preferences ' comparerival technologies and make their selections. Finally there is a discussion of factors thatmay produce inertia to technological switching. With these elements in place, the paperargues, we can begin to explain how technological learning generates long period ofstasis punctuated by sudden bursts of rapid technological change.
    Copyright Year 1999
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 13:02:08 JST