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Towards An Institutions-Theoretic Framework Comparing Solar Photovoltaic Diffusion Patterns In Japan And The United States



    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong)


    (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Meguro-ku, Ookayama, Tokyo, Japan)

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    This paper studies and compares the actual historic solar photovoltaic (PV) installation data in Japan and the United States and proposes two deployment models to account for the differences. Deployment, along with research, development and demonstration, constitutes what is known as the RD3 (PCAST — President's Council of Advances in Science and Technology, United States) innovative chain of a new technology. Japan deploys PV focusing on the niche of utility grid-tied small-scale system (90 per cent of which is standardised roof-top residential PV system) using highly integrated value chain; this seems to draw upon her strong manufacturing culture and associated social technology and institutions for suppliers-dominated innovations.The United States deploys PV as a broadly defined innovation emphasising user-oriented customisation in both on and off grid, residential and industrial applications using small independent and intermediary system integrators. Empirical analysis of the diffusion patterns in the grid-tied small system category in respective contexts suggests that Japan's institutions seem to match her mass deployment strategy while the United States' combination of fragmented industry structure and diversity deployment gives rise to a complex diffusion pattern calling for continual institutional innovation or co-evolution. Our research, therefore, highlights that commercialisation of new technology or technical change, in general, is not an autonomous process and has strong institutional underpinnings. We formalise and generalise this "match" (Perez, 1983) argument in accordance with Nelson and Sampat's (2001) framework of physical technology vs social technology and their interactions. Some potential future extensions regarding utilities for this model are then highlighted.

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    Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal International Journal of Innovation Management.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 04 ()
    Pages: 565-592

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    Handle: RePEc:wsi:ijimxx:v:11:y:2007:i:04:p:565-592
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