Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study

Geels, Frank W (2002) Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Research Policy, 31 (8-9). pp. 1257-1274. ISSN 00487333

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Abstract

This paper addresses the question of how technological transitions (TT) come about? Are there particular patterns and mechanisms in transition processes? TT are defined as major, long-term technological changes in the way societal functions are fulfilled. TT do not only involve changes in technology, but also changes in user practices, regulation, industrial networks, infrastructure, and symbolic meaning or culture. This paper practices 'appreciative theory' [R.R. Nelson, S.G. Winter, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, Bellknap Press, Cambridge, MA, 1982] and brings together insights from evolutionary economics and technology studies. This results in a multi-level perspective on TT where two views of the evolution are combined: (i) evolution as a process of variation, selection and retention, (ii) evolution as a process of unfolding and reconfiguration. The perspective is empirically illustrated with a qualitative longitudinal case-study, the transition from sailing ships to steamships, 1780-1900. Three particular mechanisms in TT are described: niche-cumulation, technological add-on and hybridisation, riding along with market growth

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Depositing User: Frank Geels
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:42
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 09:14
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/17839
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