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Technology Dynamics in Multi-Technology Industries: Selection and Variety Creation through the Lens of Path Dependency and Path Generation
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project management, Innovations and Entrepreneurship . Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis studies technological development in multi-technology industries, or industries characterized by co-existence of several technological alternatives that are used in the same or largely overlapping applications and markets. Although a lot of industries can be considered as multi-technological, they are understudied in the current research. Therefore, thesis purpose is to explain the processes of variety creation and selection in such industries. These two processes, considered in evolutionary economics literature as central for understanding technology dynamics, have specific characteristics in multi-technology industries and require a separate conceptualization.

As theoretical tools to consider the processes of selection and variety creation, the concepts of path dependency and path generation are chosen, respectively. To account for the specifics of the selection process, the framework of multiple paths and path interaction is suggested. This framework acknowledges the existence of persistence and self-reinforcing mechanisms at the level of narrowly defined technologies as well as at the overall industry level. The specifics of the process of variety creation are found to be defined by the influence from the process of selection. Therefore, variety creation is studied by analyzing how path dependency affects path generation. Three types of such influence are suggested: negative, neutral and positive.

Using the suggested concepts, the empirical case of the multi-technology lighting industry is considered with the help of patents analysis as well as the study of secondary data sources. As a result, several specific characteristics of the processes of selection and variety creation are revealed and explained.

The process of selection is found to be present at two levels: the level of narrowly defined technologies and the overall industry level. While the former level is well in line with traditional conceptualizations of selection mechanisms, it is the latter one that represents the specifics of multi-technology industries. The overall industry-level selection is based on partial overlaps between technologies and helps to explain why selection is not fully based on technology competition, but allows for positive interaction between alternatives.

For the process of variety creation, it is found to be influenced by the process of selection in three different ways. First, negative influence is found in the form of barriers imposed on the process of new technology development. Second, neutral influence is observed in the way how the established technology shaped some of the characteristics of the new ones. This type of influence explains the cumulative nature of variety creation in multi-technology industries. Third, positive influence is seen in the form of opportunities provided for new technology development, which also explains the on-going and industry-internal character of variety creation.

In sum, both processes are found to be different from traditional conceptualizations, and the interplay between them helps to sustain the multi-technological character of such industries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 49 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1674
National Category
Economics and Business Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-108885ISBN: 978-91-7519-258-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-108885DiVA: diva2:733600
Presentation
2014-09-09, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-07-10 Created: 2014-07-10 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Is one path enough? Multiple paths and path interaction as an extension of path dependency theory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is one path enough? Multiple paths and path interaction as an extension of path dependency theory
2014 (English)In: Industrial and Corporate Change, ISSN 0960-6491, E-ISSN 1464-3650, Vol. 23, no 5, 1261-1297 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To explain the development of multi-technology companies and industries where several alternative technologies co-exist and interact over long periods, this article suggests an extension of path dependency theory by providing a conceptualization of the path notion that incorporates the theoretical possibility of multiple paths and path interaction. The conceptualization is applied to a patent study of three leading companies in the lighting industry: General Electric, Osram/Siemens, and Philips. The study shows technology development patterns that are characterized by strong persistence, both within each path and across the whole technology field. These results demonstrate that multiple technological paths can co-exist in companies and industries, characterized by simultaneous long-term presence of several technologies. In such cases, path interaction takes place both between co-existing paths and when new, radically different paths are created. Although further studies are needed to identify the underlying self-reinforcing mechanisms, there is a clear indication that technological path dependency is not restricted to unitary progression patterns, as implied by previous conceptualizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2014
National Category
Economics and Business Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102614 (URN)10.1093/icc/dtt040 (DOI)000343321100005 ()
Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2017-12-06
2. Self-reinforcing mechanisms and multi-path dynamics: insights from applying the Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Self-reinforcing mechanisms and multi-path dynamics: insights from applying the Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) perspective
2013 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse self-reinforcing mechanisms in an industry characterized by persistent development of multiple, co-existing technologies in order to demonstrate that multi-path industries can be path dependent. With the help of the Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) framework, a structured analysis (following seven system functions) of self-reinforcing mechanisms is applied for the empirical case of the lighting industry, characterised by co-existence of a number of technologies, including established, or incumbent, technologies (such as incandescent, halogen, fluorescent etc. lamps) as well as the recently added light-emitting diodes (LED) technology.

As a result, three types of self-reinforcing mechanisms have been distinguished: 1) mechanisms that affect the lighting industry at the overall level; 2) mechanisms that are relevant for only one narrowly defined lighting technology and 3) mechanisms that unite several (but not all) lighting technologies. This co-existence of path-internal and cross-path self-reinforcing mechanisms confirms that industries characterised by multiple technological paths can have self-reinforcing dynamics and, consequently, be path dependent.

National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-97045 (URN)
Conference
R&D Management Conference (RADMA 2013), 26-28 June 2013, Manchester, UK
Available from: 2013-09-04 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2014-07-10Bibliographically approved
3. Path generation in a path dependent industry: the influence from theestablished technology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Path generation in a path dependent industry: the influence from theestablished technology
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper studies the process of development of new technologies in established multitechnology industries. More specifically, with the help of the concepts of path dependency and path generation, the paper addresses how the process of formation and early development of new technologies is influenced by previously established path dependent dynamics. Empirically, the paper is based on a case study of the lighting industry where two new technological paths (compact fluorescent lamps and light-emitting diodes) were developed under conditions of dominance of the incandescent technology.

As a result, three types of influence from path dependency on the process of path generation are revealed: the dominant technology can impose barriers (negative influence), shape (neutral influence) and enable (positive influence) development of new technologies. Thus, the paper shows that previously prevailing understanding of this influence as solely negative was incomplete, and contributes to a better understanding of endogenous change sources in path dependent industries.

National Category
Economics and Business Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-108884 (URN)
Available from: 2014-07-10 Created: 2014-07-10 Last updated: 2014-07-10Bibliographically approved

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