Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Who’s in Charge?

Peter W.B. Phillips

New technologies often appear to be beyond the control of any existing governing systems. This is especially true for transformative technologies such as information technologies, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. Peter Phillips examines in this book the deep governing structures of transformative technology and innovation in an effort to identify which actors can be expected to act when, under what conditions and to what effect. He analyzes the life cycles of an array of examples where converging technologies have created transformations and supervisory challenges.

Chapter 5: A Framework for Analysis

Peter W.B. Phillips

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy


And so these men of Indostan disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong. Though each was partly in the right, they all were in the wrong! John Godfrey Saxe1 INTRODUCTION The parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, attributed to the Pali Buddhist Udana and compiled in the second century BC, is as good a place as any to start a discussion of a framework for governing transformative innovation. The parable recounts that a community of blind men once heard of an extraordinary beast called an elephant and resolved to understand the creature. They sent a number of wise men from their group as emissaries to find the elephant and return with information. Once they found the animal, they each took a part of the animal to feel. One touched its leg, the other a tusk, the third an ear and they left believing they knew the animal. When they were questioned by their fellow blind men, they each offered different interpretations. The one who had felt the leg believed the animal was a pillar, extremely rough to the touch, and yet strangely soft. The one who had felt the tusk described the elephant as hard and smooth, with nothing soft or rough about it; furthermore, the animal was not nearly as stout as a pillar, but rather had the shape of a post. The third, who had held the ear, described it as both soft and rough, but not like a post...

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