The Co-evolution of Influence and Technology
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Chapter 2: Socioeconomic Design of Technological Systems
2.1 INTRODUCTION Scholars from several different disciplines have explored the paradigm of technological systems design. During the 1980s and 1990s, many scholars, mainly specializing in economics and sociology, established theoretical grounds for examining the dynamics of technological systems development. Broadly speaking, these studies have challenged traditional concepts of technology (for example, exogenous factors of economic growth) and the relationship between technology and the socioeconomic system (for example, linear model of innovation). Their approaches can be categorized under two general perspectives: technoeconomic and sociotechnological. However one of the most distinctive characteristics of research within these traditions is its interdisciplinarity, thus it is difﬁcult to distinguish between them on a disciplinary basis.1 A more detailed examination of these two perspectives is the subject of sections 2.2 and 2.3 of this chapter where they are compared and contrasted with the large technical systems (LTS) approach of Hughes (1983). Individual scholars within these perspectives argue that the evolution of technological systems involves inherently dynamic and complex interactions between technological factors and economic and social contexts. Section 2.4 discusses the main concepts and limitations of the LTS approach which have been used in many studies of electric power, telecommunications and transportation systems. With insights from economic and sociological approaches, a political economy of the localization is discussed in section 2.5. The evolution of a technological system inevitably involves struggles for control over a system and raises issues of economic and political power distribution in a society and between societies. The localization of a technological...
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