Complex Dynamic Processes in the Evolution of Early Information and Communication Technologies

Centre for Technology Management (CTM) Working Paper, No. 2005/02

31 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2011

See all articles by Elizabeth W. Garnsey

Elizabeth W. Garnsey

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Paul Heffernan

University of Cambridge - Centre for Technology Management

Simon Ford

University of Cambridge - Centre for Technology Management

Date Written: November 1, 2005

Abstract

The creation of novelty and its subsequent retention or elimination by evolutionary mechanisms is a central theme in complexity studies. By examining the evolution of three information and communication technologies, this paper explores linkages between variety generation, selection and propagation. Tensions are identified between the benefits of variety to meet diverse user needs and the value of standardization to facilitate exchange. In ICT industries, the usefulness of a product or service increases with numbers of users. The benefits of interoperability, the facilitation of complementary technologies around a standard and user switching costs are among network externalities. These contribute to the emergence of dominant designs and standard protocols, which reduce the variety of enabling or platform technologies but increase complementary product and process innovations. The linkages between evolutionary selection and propagation in ICT have accelerated the pace of innovation, but could in principle have the reverse effect, unless the effects of asymmetries of market power and proprietary standards are offset. Long term support for science and technology and entrepreneurial activity provide exogenous sources of variety that can renew innovation.

Keywords: Complex dynamic processes, industry evolution, technological evolution, evolutionary processes, variety generation, selection processes, diversity, innovation, ICT

JEL Classification: L23, L63, O31, O33

Suggested Citation

Garnsey, Elizabeth W. and Heffernan, Paul and Ford, Simon, Complex Dynamic Processes in the Evolution of Early Information and Communication Technologies (November 1, 2005). Centre for Technology Management (CTM) Working Paper, No. 2005/02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1923116 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1923116

Elizabeth W. Garnsey (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1223 338183 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.jims.cam.ac.uk/people/faculty/garnseye.html

Paul Heffernan

University of Cambridge - Centre for Technology Management ( email )

Engineering Department
Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1PZ
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 338175 (Phone)
+44 (0)1223 766400 (Fax)

Simon Ford

University of Cambridge - Centre for Technology Management ( email )

Alan Reece Building
17 Charles Babbage Road
Cambridge, CB3 0FS
United Kingdom
+44(0)1223 766776 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/sjf39/

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
24
Abstract Views
739
PlumX Metrics