The ICT Component of Technological Diversification: Is there an underestimation of ICT capabilities among the world's largest companies?
This empirical paper analyses the importance of information and communications technologies (ICT) in the technological diversification trend among the world's large industrial firms. The objective of the research is twofold. First, to emphasise the emerging differences among technologies when companies from different industries patent outside their traditional technological competencies. Second, to investigate whether the tendency among large companies from all industries to patent in ICT is distinctive when compared with other technologies. We find that technological diversification in large companies has certainly occurred in ICTs. For other technologies the results are ambiguous. As could be expected there is considerable industry variation in the intensity and specific directions of ICT patenting. We conclude that the development of corporate capabilities in the key technologies of the emerging ICT paradigm is more widespread than previously emphasised in the literature. One implication is that the rise of multi-technology corporations can be related to the concept of long waves of techno-economic change and to studies characterising ICT as a general-purpose technology.
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