Demand, Users and Innovation
Edited by Rod Coombs, Ken Green, Albert Richards and Vivien Walsh
Chapter 6: Shaping the selection environment: 'chlorine in the dock'
6. Shaping the selection environment: ‘chlorine in the dock’ Andrew McMeekin INTRODUCTION The latter half of the twentieth century has witnessed growing concerns regarding the impact of industrial activity on the natural environment. Reports in the media have frequently documented the growth of ‘green consumerism’ and of emerging national and international regulatory frameworks for reducing environmental damage. These shifts have had implications for the competitive contexts that ﬁrms operate in, and in turn on the innovation strategies that they pursue. It has been suggested (for example, by Freeman, 1996) that modern capitalist economies are in the process of moving into a ‘green techno-economic paradigm’, implying that large sections of industrial activity will be subjected to ‘green’ pressures. The chlorine industry (ﬁrms involved with pesticides, aerosols, PVC and many more) is one such industry where these pressures are already evident. This chapter presents an analysis of the ‘chlorine debate’, with a particular focus on describing how this debate has constituted a backdrop upon which new regulations and standards have been created and how consumer and industrial demand have shifted. It also describes several instances where ﬁrms have reacted to these shifts, and have invested in new research and development trajectories. Analysis of the chlorine debate was conducted by using a framework that draws on evolutionary economics and the sociology of science and technology. In doing so, several shortfalls of evolutionary economic models of technological change are discussed, speciﬁcally, the insufﬁcient attention to changes in the characteristics of the selection...
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