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Exploring over the Presumed Identity of Emerging Technology

  • Thomas Gillier


    (CITE - Centre pour l'Innovation Technologique et Entrepreneuriale - Grenoble École de Management (GEM), MTS - Management Technologique et Strategique - Grenoble École de Management (GEM))

  • Gérald Piat


    (EDF R&D - EDF Recherche et Développement, createam - EDF R&D)

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    While scientists are stepping up their efforts to develop new technologies, the ability of firms to determine the value of their technologies by identifying potential applications has become a major challenge. This article focuses on a particular phase of technology development: the emergence phase. When a promising new technology first sees the light of day in a fundamental research laboratory, its target markets often seem plentiful but are ill-defined. The inability to produce prototypes or to identify potential users makes it difficult to explore potential commercial applications. On the basis of four micro-nanotechnologies case-studies conducted within a multi-partner innovation project, this article aims to theoretically explain why the identification of applications from emerging technologies is not a trivial problem. That research analyses how technologists and non-experts interact during creative investigations on new applications. It shows that the technologists are victims of a form of cognitive fixation effect. Indeed, their beliefs and activities are guided by a stable cognitive representation of their technology: the presumed identity of technology. Based on a recent design framework, C-K Design Theory, the technological exploration process followed in our four case-studies is modeled and mechanisms to dismantle the presumed identity and to design an extended identity of technology are provided.

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    Paper provided by HAL in its series Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) with number hal-00641765.

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    Date of creation: 16 Nov 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:hal:gemptp:hal-00641765
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    1. Griffin, Abbie. & Hauser, John R. & Griffin, Abbie, 1994. "Integrating R&D and marketing : a review and analysis of the literature," Working papers #112-94. Working paper (S, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
    3. Segrestin, Blanche, 2005. "Partnering to explore: The Renault-Nissan Alliance as a forerunner of new cooperative patterns," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 657-672, June.
    4. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
    5. Glen L. Urban & Eric von Hippel, 1988. "Lead User Analyses for the Development of New Industrial Products," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(5), pages 569-582, May.
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