Thinking About Technology: Applying a Cognitive Lens to Technical Change

44 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2007 Last revised: 3 Sep 2013

See all articles by Sarah Kaplan

Sarah Kaplan

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Mary Tripsas

Boston College; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Date Written: April 11, 2008

Abstract

We apply a cognitive lens to understanding technology trajectories across the life cycle by developing a coevolutionary model of technological frames and technology. Applying that model to each stage of the technology life cycle, we identify conditions under which a cognitive lens might change the expected technological outcome predicted by purely economic or organizational models. We also show that interactions of producers, users and institutions shape the development of collective frames around the meaning of new technologies. We thus deepen our understanding of sources of variation in the era of ferment, conditions under which a dominant design may be achieved, the underlying architecture of the era of incremental change and the dynamics associated with discontinuities.

Keywords: technological frames, cognition, technical change, technology life cycle, technology trajectories

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Sarah and Tripsas, Mary, Thinking About Technology: Applying a Cognitive Lens to Technical Change (April 11, 2008). HBS Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Research Paper No. 04-039; Research Policy, Forthcoming; Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 04-039. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1008908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1008908

Sarah Kaplan

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

Mary Tripsas (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

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