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Competing Recombinant Technologies for Environmental Innovation: Extending Arthur's Model of Lock-In


  • Paolo Zeppini
  • Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh


This article presents a model of sequential decisions about investments in environmentally dirty and clean technologies, which extends the path-dependence framework of B. Arthur (1989, Competing technologies, increasing returns, and lock-in by historical events, The Economic Journal, 99, pp. 116-131). This allows us to evaluate if and how an economy locked into a dirty technology can be unlocked and move towards clean technology. The main extension involves the inclusion of the effect of recombinant innovation of the two technologies. A mechanism of endogenous competition is described involving a positive externality of increasing returns to investment which are counterbalanced by recombinant innovation. We determine conditions under which lock-in can be avoided or escaped. A second extension is “symmetry breaking” of the system due to the introduction of an environmental policy that charges a price for polluting. A final extension adds a cost of environmental policy in the form of lower returns on investment implemented through a growth-depressing factor. We compare cumulative pollution under different scenarios, so that we can evaluate the combination of environmental regulation and recombinant innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Zeppini & Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh, 2011. "Competing Recombinant Technologies for Environmental Innovation: Extending Arthur's Model of Lock-In," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 317-334.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:18:y:2011:i:3:p:317-334 DOI: 10.1080/13662716.2011.561031

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Beise, Marian & Rennings, Klaus, 2005. "Lead markets and regulation: a framework for analyzing the international diffusion of environmental innovations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 5-17, January.
    2. Christian Rammer & Dirk Czarnitzki & Alfred Spielkamp, 2009. "Innovation success of non-R&D-performers: substituting technology by management in SMEs," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 35-58, June.
    3. Popp, David, 2006. "International innovation and diffusion of air pollution control technologies: the effects of NOX and SO2 regulation in the US, Japan, and Germany," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 46-71, January.
    4. Rehfeld, Katharina-Maria & Rennings, Klaus & Ziegler, Andreas, 2007. "Integrated product policy and environmental product innovations: An empirical analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 91-100, February.
    5. Klaus Rennings & Christian Rammer, 2009. "Increasing Energy and Resource Efficiency through Innovation: An Explorative Analysis Using Innovation Survey Data," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 59(5), pages 442-459, December.
    6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    7. Beise, Marian & Cleff, Thomas, 2004. "Assessing the lead market potential of countries for innovation projects," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 453-477.
    8. Frondel, Manuel & Horbach, Jens & Rennings, Klaus, 2004. "End-of-Pipe or Cleaner Production? An Empirical Comparison of Environmental Innovation Decisions Across OECD Countries," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-82, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Horbach, Jens, 2008. "Determinants of environmental innovation--New evidence from German panel data sources," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 163-173, February.
    10. Brunnermeier, Smita B. & Cohen, Mark A., 2003. "Determinants of environmental innovation in US manufacturing industries," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 278-293, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dumas, Marion & Rising, James & Urpelainen, Johannes, 2016. "Political competition and renewable energy transitions over long time horizons: A dynamic approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 175-184.
    2. Grazia Cecere & Nicoletta Corrocher & Cédric Gossart & Muge Ozman, 2014. "Lock-in and path dependence: an evolutionary approach to eco-innovations," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 1037-1065, November.
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:37-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Zeppini, Paolo, 2015. "A discrete choice model of transitions to sustainable technologies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 187-203.
    5. Koen Frenken & Luis R. Izquierdo & Paolo Zeppini, 2012. "Recombinant Innovation and Endogenous Transitions," Working Papers 12-01, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies, revised Jan 2012.
    6. Lopolito, A. & Morone, P. & Taylor, R., 2013. "Emerging innovation niches: An agent based model," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1225-1238.
    7. Schmidt, Tobias S. & Battke, Benedikt & Grosspietsch, David & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2016. "Do deployment policies pick technologies by (not) picking applications?—A simulation of investment decisions in technologies with multiple applications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1965-1983.
    8. Safarzyńska, Karolina & Frenken, Koen & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2012. "Evolutionary theorizing and modeling of sustainability transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1011-1024.
    9. Markard, Jochen & Raven, Rob & Truffer, Bernhard, 2012. "Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 955-967.
    10. Timothy J. Foxon & Jonathan Köhler & Jonathan Michie & Christine Oughton, 2013. "Towards a new complexity economics for sustainability," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(1), pages 187-208.
    11. Papachristos, George, 2017. "Diversity in technology competition: The link between platforms and sociotechnical transitions," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 291-306.
    12. Jeroen Bergh & Giorgos Kallis, 2013. "A survey of evolutionary policy: normative and positive dimensions," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 281-303, October.


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