|InterJournal Complex Systems, 354
|Manuscript Number: |
Submission Date: 425
|Unlocking a lock-in: a model of technological successions|
This paper has two objectives. First, it seeks to set an agenda in which technological successions can be meaningfully discussed. Second, it aims to establish the conditions under which a technological succession may occur. These are analysed by way of a simulation model of co-evolving consumer groups and technology designs that are associated with alternative technologies. Opening up the research agenda on transition phases from established to new technologies is a key issue in discussions of technological evolution and economic growth. Given the increasing returns to adoption enjoyed by an established technology, it is necessary to investigate the conditions under which it is possible for technological succession to occur. In so doing, the paper takes on board the important insights into increasing returns to adoption and path dependency made by the lock-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 of technological succession. First, one must have a clear definition of the elements necessary to operationalise the concept of succession. Second, one needs to appreciate the way in which consumers – with heterogeneous preferences – compare rival technologies and make their selections. Finally there is a discussion of factors that may produce inertia to technological switching. With these elements in place, the paper argues, we can begin to understand how technological learning generates long period of stasis punctuated by sudden bursts of rapid technological change.
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