Technology and the Market

Technology and the Market

Demand, Users and Innovation

Edited by Rod Coombs, Ken Green, Albert Richards and Vivien Walsh

The interplay between demand from the market, the role of users in shaping that demand, and the way in which these factors influence the innovation process has always been a complex one. This forward thinking book examines this interplay from a technological change perspective. The contributors explore the potential for rapprochement between economics, sociological and other social science disciplines in considering the allocation of resources and the making of decisions about technological change. The papers within this book represent a judicious blend of theory and empirical research and look at a broad range of innovations, markets and technologies in medicine, agricultural and food production, services and IT. Technology and the Market raises the question of the many ‘visible hands’ that are involved in linking technology and the market together.

Chapter 6: Shaping the selection environment: 'chlorine in the dock'

Andrew McMeekin

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy


6. Shaping the selection environment: ‘chlorine in the dock’ Andrew McMeekin INTRODUCTION The latter half of the twentieth century has witnessed growing concerns regarding the impact of industrial activity on the natural environment. Reports in the media have frequently documented the growth of ‘green consumerism’ and of emerging national and international regulatory frameworks for reducing environmental damage. These shifts have had implications for the competitive contexts that firms operate in, and in turn on the innovation strategies that they pursue. It has been suggested (for example, by Freeman, 1996) that modern capitalist economies are in the process of moving into a ‘green techno-economic paradigm’, implying that large sections of industrial activity will be subjected to ‘green’ pressures. The chlorine industry (firms involved with pesticides, aerosols, PVC and many more) is one such industry where these pressures are already evident. This chapter presents an analysis of the ‘chlorine debate’, with a particular focus on describing how this debate has constituted a backdrop upon which new regulations and standards have been created and how consumer and industrial demand have shifted. It also describes several instances where firms have reacted to these shifts, and have invested in new research and development trajectories. Analysis of the chlorine debate was conducted by using a framework that draws on evolutionary economics and the sociology of science and technology. In doing so, several shortfalls of evolutionary economic models of technological change are discussed, specifically, the insufficient attention to changes in the characteristics of the selection...

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