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 12: Governing Production, Marketing and Consumption

Peter W.B. Phillips

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


There is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success and more dangerous to carry through, than to initiate a new order of things. . . . Men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. Niccolo Machiavelli1 INTRODUCTION The general model of innovation introduced and examined in Chapter 3 posited that innovation involved creations which are introduced, absorbed into and persist in the economy and society. In essence, innovations generate value from their use and not from their creation or existence.2 Gestating and introducing a new product, technology, process, concept or institution and ensuring that it perseveres and continues to add value is the ultimate hurdle for new inventions. Although many ideas can get part way through the system, only a small subset gets to be a candidate for use and only a small percentage of that is used in any appreciable way for any significant period of time. A recent study of 1091 Canadian inventions concluded that only 75 reached the market, of which 45 lost money and only six were judged to be blockbusters, with returns on investment above 1400 per cent.3 The problem, in a nutshell, is that even the most exciting and technically innovative invention may not match up with the needs, wants, desires and preferences of individual consumers, citizens and groups. So far most of the discussion and analysis of innovation in this volume has focused on the role of industrial, governmental and non-governmental actors as they consider what...

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