The early development of the steam engine: an evolutionary interpretation using complexity theory
In this paper we analyse the early development of the steam engine as a search process in a multidimensional design space. This perspective allows us to make use of recent insights coming from complex systems theory, in particular, of a generalized version of Kauffman's NK-model. We analyse yearly distributions of steam engine designs and their sectors of application for the period 1760--1800. We interpret the patterns of variety and differentiation characterizing the behaviour of these distributions as emerging properties of underlying search processes unfolding in the design space. We conclude that the early development of steam power technology can be understood as a process of 'technological speciation' of various engine designs in distinct users' niches. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.
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Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Marengo, Luigi, et al, 2000.
"The Structure of Problem-Solving Knowledge and the Structure of Organizations,"
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- Philip Auerswald & Stuart Kauffman & Jose Lobo & Karl Shell, 1998. "The Production Recipes Approach to Modeling Technological Innovation: An Application to Learning By Doing," Working Papers 98-11-100, Santa Fe Institute.
- Saviotti, P. P. & Metcalfe, J. S., 1984. "A theoretical approach to the construction of technological output indicators," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 141-151, June.
- Kauffman, Stuart & Lobo, Jose & Macready, William G., 2000. "Optimal search on a technology landscape," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 141-166, October.
- Halsey, Harlan I., 1981. "The Choice Between High-Pressure and Low-Pressure Steam Power in America in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(04), pages 723-744, December. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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