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Characterizing the emergence of a technological field: Expectations, agendas and networks in Lab-on-a-chip technologies

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In this paper we develop and use mapping tools to investigate emerging technological fields by studying the dynamics of expectations, agenda building and early networks. In our approach, expectations describe shared beliefs with regard to prospective entities and positions. Agendas are sets of priorities present to guide the actors in their work. The structure that arises as a result of the actions and interactions of actors is the emerging network. For emerging technologies these processes are susceptible to change and the technological paths that may arise are still easy to influence. We propose that not only looking at expectation dynamics, but also including agenda setting and networks dynamics is essential in order to successfully capture the complexities of the emergence of technological paths. A major challenge for this work lies in unveiling the socio-technical dynamics leading to path emergence. For this purpose we investigate the phenomena of irreversibilities that emerge during the ongoing interactions of researchers, institutes, policy makers and firms. With these aspects in mind, we will use a broadened view of expectation dynamics in order to arrive at an improved understanding of the building blocks of path emergence. We illustrate our approach with a case study of Lab-on-a-chip technology for medical and pharmaceutical applications.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Innovation and Environmental Sciences, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands 2: Department of Science, Technology, Health and Policy Studies, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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