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 13: Conclusions

Peter W.B. Phillips

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


It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin INTRODUCTION Any discussion about innovation is ultimately about change. Although the rate, scale and scope of the change will vary depending on whether the technology involves small, iterative adjustments or poses large, transformative modifications, the challenge remains the same. Institutions need to respond and to adapt to the new circumstances. Although many institutions involved in governing a system are able to adapt to changing circumstances, inflexible institutions can block a change (for better or worse) or become increasingly irrelevant as new institutional pathways are developed to govern new circumstances. Existing institutions will end up either leading, following, or getting out of the way (either by design or by happenstance). The nature and process of making that fundamental choice about how to engage goes a long way to determining what, where, when, why, how and by whom new technologies are adapted, adopted and used, and whether that use generates social benefits. This book has attempted to illuminate the range of potential changes that could be precipitated by technological innovation in modern, industrial economies and to examine how different governing actors have engaged in controlling change in different sectors and regions. As with all social analysis, this effort has been directed to discovering a deeper understanding of how society – through the state, market and a range of civil authorities – makes choices about what it will nurture and promote and...

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