Progress and Setbacks: The Two Faces of Technology Emergence

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Emerging technologies are an important driver of economic growth. However, the process of their emergence may not only be characterized by technological progress but also by setbacks. We offer a perspective on technology emergence that explicitly incorporates setbacks into the technology's evolution and explains how industry participants may react to setbacks in emerging technologies. We consider that the locus of innovation in an emerging technology encompasses different types of organizations (industry incumbents, entrants and public research organizations (PROs)) who operate in different institutional environments, and explore how these organizations react to setbacks in terms of their R&D efforts. We study two emerging biotechnologies in the global pharmaceutical industry - gene therapy (GT) and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Our findings reinforce that organizational and institutional characteristics that are typically attributed to facilitate R&D efforts towards emerging technologies do induce greater levels of those efforts during periods of progress. However, the same characteristics are also associated with a significant decline in R&D efforts immediately following periods of setbacks. Overall, the study illustrates how setbacks reconfigure the locus of innovation in emerging technologies and offers a richer perspective on technology emergence as one that is rooted in both progress and setbacks. In so doing, it highlights the challenges of sustaining technological progress and offers guidance for policy.
Bibliographic citation: Kapoor, Rahul; Klueter, Thomas Maximilian, "Progress and Setbacks: The Two Faces of Technology Emergence", Research Policy, Vol. 49, No. 1, 2020

Reference: 10.1016/j.respol.2019.103874 (DOI)
Date: 02/2020
Author(s): Kapoor, Rahul; Klueter, Thomas Maximilian
Document type: Article in Journal (refereed)
Languages: English