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Technology and the Market

Demand, Users and Innovation

Edited by Rod Coombs, Ken Green, Albert Richards and Vivien Walsh

The interplay between demand from the market, the role of users in shaping that demand, and the way in which these factors influence the innovation process has always been a complex one. This forward thinking book examines this interplay from a technological change perspective. The contributors explore the potential for rapprochement between economics, sociological and other social science disciplines in considering the allocation of resources and the making of decisions about technological change. The papers within this book represent a judicious blend of theory and empirical research and look at a broad range of innovations, markets and technologies in medicine, agricultural and food production, services and IT. Technology and the Market raises the question of the many ‘visible hands’ that are involved in linking technology and the market together.
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Chapter 3: Great expectations: the construction of markets, products and user needs during the early development of gene therapy in the USA

Paul Martin


Paul Martin INTRODUCTION The involvement of users in the innovation process is widely seen to be a critical factor in the success or failure of a new technology (von Hippel and Finkelstein, 1979). This is no more apparent than in the field of medical technology, where a number of studies have paid close attention to the way in which the interaction between the medical profession and industry has influenced the subsequent adoption of a technology (Blume, 1992; Shaw, 1998). However, relatively little work has been done on the way in which users’ needs are articulated and socially organized during the innovation process in medicine. This is particularly true of radical innovations or in the case of technologies which lie outside the capital goods, medical instruments and devices market. Furthermore, the majority of studies relating to medical technologies are concerned with the later stages of product development, and the adoption and diffusion of the innovation. In many examples there is scant information about the very early, pre-market, creating of a new technology. This chapter is part of a larger study of the early development of a radical new medical technology, gene therapy, which is attempting to analyse the process of science-based innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry. With respect to the issues highlighted above, it will attempt to address the following questions: G G How do firms know who the users of their technology might be and what they want or need? What processes are involved in the articulation and detection...

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