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Self-reinforcing Mechanisms in a Multi-technology Industry: Understanding Sustained Technological Variety in a Context of Path Dependency
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project Innovations and Entrepreneurship. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Project Innovations and Entrepreneurship. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1952-902X
2015 (English)In: Industry and Innovation, ISSN 1366-2716, E-ISSN 1469-8390, Vol. 22, no 6, 523-551 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper studies self-reinforcing mechanisms in multi-technology industries, i.e. industries in which technological lock-in does not occur and several technologies continue to coexist. The purpose of this paper is to investigate what kind of self-reinforcing mechanisms can be present in such industries and explain how multiple paths can coexist and interact in a context of self-reinforcement and, ultimately, path dependency. Building on the empirical example of the lighting industry, the paper shows that all previously recognized types of self-reinforcing mechanisms can be present in a multi-technology industry. However, in addition to the path-internal positive feedbacks and cross-path negative externalities identified in single-path settings, multi-technology industries also experience positive cross-path externalities that create a symbiotic relationship between alternatives and allow for the reproduction of the same development pattern across technologies. Due to the existence of such non-negative technology interactions, multi-technology industries can be path dependent while still retaining technological variety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR and FRANCIS LTD , 2015. Vol. 22, no 6, 523-551 p.
Keyword [en]
Self-reinforcing mechanisms; path dependency; multi-technology industries; lighting industry
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123163DOI: 10.1080/13662716.2015.1100532ISI: 000364722200004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-123163DiVA: diva2:877272
Note

Funding Agencies|Riksbankens Jubileumsfond via the KITE research program [M2006-0231]

Available from: 2015-12-06 Created: 2015-12-04 Last updated: 2017-04-28
In thesis
1. Enabled by the past: understanding endogenous innovation in mature industries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enabled by the past: understanding endogenous innovation in mature industries
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Mature industries have played and still play a crucial role in national and world economies. To survive and retain competitiveness, they need to innovate, as innovation is the driver of economics growth and industrial transformation. However, existing research does not provide sufficient explanation of how innovation in mature industries can be enabled based on resources and internal development logic of those industries, i.e. endogenously. Some previous studies focused on incremental innovation patterns, which led to an underestimation of innovation potential of mature industries. Other studies acknowledged a high innovation potential of mature industries, but failed to explain how, through what mechanisms, industry-endogenous logic can bring about major innovations.

Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to systematically address, explain and conceptualize endogenous industry- innovation and its driving mechanisms in mature industries. To achieve this purpose, three main issues are addressed. First, the thesis investigates and conceptualizes the notion of industry endogenous innovation mechanisms based on the path dependency theory. Second, the thesis addresses strategic choices and actions by established companies that are rooted in the industry endogenous mechanisms and result in highly innovative outcomes. Third, the thesis systematically analyses different aspects of radicalness of innovations resulting from industry endogenous mechanisms.

The thesis represents a qualitative, embedded case study with two main industry cases, i.e. the global lighting industry and the Swedish pulp and paper industry. The lighting industry and its sub-cases in the form of specific lighting technologies have been studied via the analysis of patents of leading lighting manufacturers, archival and secondary data sources as well as interviews with different types of actors in the industry. The pulp and paper industry and its sub-cases in the form of innovation initiatives have been studied with the help of interviews with leading manufacturers and research institutes, as well the analysis of annual reports and secondary data sources. The outcomes of the study are presented in the form of the thesis cover paper and five appended papers.

The results show that innovations of any magnitude can be endogenously developed in mature industries. At the industry level, endogenous innovation is driven by innovation mechanisms that can be conceptualized as reactive sequences and self-reinforcing mechanisms. At the level of individual companies, the exploitation strategy corresponds to the logic of endogenous innovation mechanisms by enabling highly innovative outcomes and building on a wide range of resources available in the industry. The endogenous character of innovation mechanisms imposes certain limitations on the radicalness of the outcomes in the form of trade-offs in terms of how many and what particular aspects can be radically new at once.

With these results, the thesis contributes to a more balanced overall understanding of innovation potential of mature industries and allows shifting the focus of discussion from whether mature industries can develop radical innovation to when and under what conditions they can succeed in this process. The results of the thesis also suggest several recommendations for managers in established companies with regard to how they can they can take advantage of industry endogenous innovation mechanisms.

Abstract [sv]

Mogna branscher har traditionellt sett spelat och spelar fortfarande en viktig roll för såväl nationella ekonomier som för världsekonomin. För att överleva och behålla sin konkurrenskraft behöver mogna branscher fortsätta vara innovativa, eftersom innovation driver ekonomisk tillväxt. Även för enskilda, etablerade företag i sådana branscher är innovation centralt – de företag som inte lyckas med innovation riskerar att förlora i konkurrensen och bli ersatta av andra.

Det finns emellertid än så länge inte någon bra förklaring till hur innovation i mogna branscher kan möjliggöras endogent, d v s baserat på befintliga resurser och branschens interna utvecklingslogik. Tidigare studier har antingen tenderat att underskatta innovationspotentialen i mogna branscher eller misslyckats med att visa hur – d v s genom vilka mekanismer – branschens egen logik kan möjliggöra radikala innovationer.

Syftet med denna avhandling är att förklara och konceptualisera endogena innovation och dess drivmekanismer i mogna branscher. För att uppnå detta syfte undersöker avhandlingen endogena innovationsprocesser på såväl bransch- som företagsnivå samt analyserar i vilken utsträckning olika aspekter av radikala innovationer möjliggörs av endogena mekanismer. Avhandlingen är baserad på kvalitativa fallstudier av två branscher. Den första branschen är den globala belysningsindustrin, där olika belysningstekniker har studerats via analyser av patent, sekundära datakällor samt intervjuer med olika typer av aktörer i branschen. Den andra branschen är svensk pappersmassaindustri, där ett antal olika innovationsinitiativ har studerats framförallt med hjälp av intervjuer med ledande företag och forskningsinstitut.

Avhandlingen består av en kappa och fem bifogade artiklar. Resultaten visar att alla typer av innovationer, inklusive radikala innovationer, kan utvecklas endogent i mogna branscher. På industrinivån drivs denna utveckling av innovationsmekanismer i form av reaktiva sekvenser och självförstärkande mekanismer. På företagsnivån kan processen drivas av en innovationsstrategi som bygger på exploatering av befintliga resurser. Trots att alla aspekter av radikala innovationer kan utvecklas endogent, medför endogena mekanismer emellertid vissa begränsningar i form av kritiska avvägningar när det gäller hur många och vilka aspekter som kan hållas radikala samtidigt.

Med dessa resultat bidrar avhandlingen till en mer balanserad, övergripande förståelse för innovationspotentialen i mogna branscher och medger ett skifte av fokus i vetenskapliga diskussioner från frågan om mogna branscher kan utveckla radikala innovationer till när och under vilka villkor de kan lyckas med denna process. I avhandlingen ges även rekommendationer för ledare i etablerade företag med avseende på hur de kan dra nytta av branschens endogena innovationsmekanismer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2017. 94 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1838
Keyword
mature industry, endogenous innovation, innovation mechanisms, exploitation, radical innovation, lighting industry, pulp and paper industry
National Category
Economic Geography Business Administration Economic History Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Work Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-136099 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-136099 (DOI)9789176855614 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-16, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-03-27 Created: 2017-03-27 Last updated: 2017-04-19Bibliographically approved

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