Innovation and Inequality
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Innovation and Inequality

Emerging Technologies in an Unequal World

Edited by Susan Cozzens and Dhanaraj Thakur

Inequality is one of the main features of globalization. Do emerging technologies, as they spread around the world, contribute to more inequality or less? This unique interdisciplinary text examines the relationships between emerging technologies and social, economic and other forms of inequality.
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Chapter 12: Distributional effects of emerging technologies in Germany: analysis based on two case studies

Bernd Beckert


This chapter examines the distributional effects of emerging technologies in Germany and is based on the case studies on mobile phones and open-source software (OSS). The case study on recombinant insulin was not included in this analysis because distributional effects were not followed explicitly there. Also, case studies on GM maize and tissue culture were not available for Germany. However, the cases of mobile phones and OSS are very well suited to illustrate typical features of the German innovation system and to discuss relevant distributional aspects of new and emerging technologies because they address central mechanisms and developments in the country. Based on our introduction to the national context of Germany in Chapter 2, we postulated that in terms of emerging technologies, absorptive capacity should be high and distributional boundaries likely to be minimal. This stems in part from the country's position as a producer and consumer of emerging technologies. In addition, we argue that the central mechanism of redistribution in Germany is not to be found so much in the technologies themselves but rather in the welfare state, which redistributes the gains of new technologies to the economically poorer parts of the population. New technologies in Germany are seen as a means to stay competitive in a globalized economy. This includes the modernization of industries where Germany is traditionally strong as well as the further development of high-tech sectors considered to be of central importance for economic well-being in the future.

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