Industrial Dynamics, Entrepreneurship and Innovation series
Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and David Jacobson
Chapter 8: Technology Fusion and Organizational Structures in Low- and Medium-tech Companies
8. Technology fusion and organizational structures in lowand medium-tech companies Daniela Freddi INTRODUCTION In this chapter we develop the argument recently advanced by a few authors (Hirsch-Kreinsen et al., 2003; Sandven et al., 2005; Von Tunzelmann and Acha, 2005) that the role of medium- and low-tech sectors in economic growth has been undervalued or even neglected1. As Sandven et al. (2005: 57) point out, ‘medium and low-tech industries have persisted over the past decades despite the claims that we are undergoing a kind of structural revolution’. According to them the cause of this persistency is that growth is based much more on the ‘internal transformation’ of existing sectors than on their substitution by new sectors (ibid.: 58). Therefore in line with these arguments we maintain that the attention of scholars and policy-makers should move away from the concern with how to increase the production of high technologies, to other issues, for example, that of how to increase the application of high technologies in existing sectors in order to promote their internal transformation.2 For this reason we illustrate here the possible evolution of LMT sectors that might occur thanks to the fusion of traditional and radical new technologies3, in particular the shift from traditional mechanics towards mechatronics, and try to asses the consequences of this on companies’ organizational structures. As we have shown elsewhere (Freddi, 2007, forthcoming), ‘mechatronics’ refers to a blend of mechanics and electronics originating in Japan at the end of the 1970s with the ﬁrst applications of electrical...