Innovation and Technology Diffusion in Competitive Supply Chains
33 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 31, 2017
Innovations in consumer products frequently rely on technological advances across multiple tiers in a supply chain. Considering the consumer market demand and downstream investment conditions as input, we model a game in a two-tier supply chain where downstream firms choose to adopt different levels of an upstream technology and an upstream technology leader determines its pricing policy. We identify two necessary but distinct elements for the successful development, adoption, and diffusion of upstream technologies that are sold to lower tiers as components within final products. (1) The level of technology demanded by the market: We develop a measure, Technological Potential, which describes the highest level of an upstream technology demanded by consumer markets. (2) A sufficiently rich return to an upstream innovator, as a function of different levels of technology. From these two elements, we show that the relative magnitudes of two competing sets of consumer market factors determine the Technological Potential whereas the overall magnitude of the factors in both sets determines the return to the upstream developer. We discuss how this difference in consumer market factors' influence on these two elements may determine how different technologies fare in the supply chain. Our results have managerial implications for: investors in research and development project selection in identifying profitable technologies that are also demanded at higher capability levels; and for governments in defining more targeted public policies - for example in choosing the right tier of a supply chain to provide subsidies - to encourage market support for certain technologies.
Keywords: research and development; supply chains; technology; competition; innovation
JEL Classification: C61, C7, C72, C73, L11, L13, M11, O14, O30, O31, O32, O33, O38
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