Coping with Technology: A Study on Economic Methodology and Strategic Management of Technology
Kyläheiko, Kalevi (1995-12-08)
LTKK Tieteellisiä julkaisuja - Research papersURN:ISSN:0356-8210
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There is a broad consensus among economists that technologicalchange has been a major contributor to the productivity growth and, hence, to the growth of the material welfare in western industrialized countries at least over the last century. Paradoxically, this issue has not been the focal point of theoretical economics. At the same time, we have witnessed the rise of the importance of technological issues at the strategic management level of business firms. Interestingly, the research has not accurately responded to this challenge either. The tension between the overwhelming empirical evidence of the importance of technology and its relative omission in the research offers a challenging target for a methodological endeavor. This study deals with the question of how different theories cope with technology and explain technological change. The focusis at the firm level and the analysis concentrates on metatheoretical issues, except for the last two chapters, which examine the problems of strategic management of technology. Here the aim is to build a new evolutionary-based theoreticalframework to analyze innovation processes at the firm level. The study consistsof ten chapters. Chapter 1 poses the research problem and contrasts the two basic approaches, neoclassical and evolutionary, to be analyzed. Chapter 2 introduces the methodological framework which is based on the methodology of isolation. Methodological and ontoogical commitments of the rival approaches are revealed and basic questions concerning their ways of theorizing are elaborated. Chapters 3-6 deal with the so-called substantive isolative criteria. The aim is to examine how different approaches cope with such critical issues as inherent uncertainty and complexity of innovative activities (cognitive isolations, chapter 3), theboundedness of rationality of innovating agents (behavioral isolations, chapter4), the multidimensional nature of technology (chapter 5), and governance costsrelated to technology (chapter 6). Chapters 7 and 8 put all these things together and look at the explanatory structures used by the neoclassical and evolutionary approaches in the light of substantive isolations. The last two cpahters of the study utilize the methodological framework and tools to appraise different economics-based candidates in the context of strategic management of technology. The aim is to analyze how different approaches answer the fundamental question: How can firms gain competitive advantages through innovations and how can the rents appropriated from successful innovations be sustained? The last chapter introduces a new evolutionary-based technology management framework. Also the largely omitted issues of entrepreneurship are examined.
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