Technology Forgiveness: The Different Institutional Resilience of Polymer and Metal Additive Manufacturing in Portugal

Posted: 29 Nov 2017

See all articles by Jaime Bonnin Roca

Jaime Bonnin Roca

University of Cambridge - Institute for Manufacturing

Parth Vaishnav

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering & Public Policy

M. Granger Morgan

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering and Public Policy

Erica R.H. Fuchs

Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University

Joana Mendonça

Technical University of Lisbon (UTL)

Date Written: November 23, 2017

Abstract

Institutional support can play an important role in supplementing private investment in innovative activities, especially in latecomer countries. This prospect can be particularly challenging in nations not leading the technological frontier, which suffer from higher resource scarcity than technology leaders. We study the case of the adoption of polymer (PAM) and metal (MAM) additive manufacturing technologies in the Portuguese molds industry, both of which offer important benefits for competitiveness. Leveraging archival data (about the history of Portugal and the technologies); insights from 45 interviews across academia, industry, and government; and 75 hours of participant observations, we develop insights about why institutional instability in Portugal affected the adoption of Polymer Additive Manufacturing (PAM) and Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) differently. In both cases, Portugal invested in the technology relatively early. While PAM has been widely adopted, including increasingly in high-tech applications, MAM adoption has been modest despite MAM’s potential to greatly improve the performance and competitiveness of metal molds. From the comparison between PAM and MAM, we generate theory about technological and contextual factors that affect ‘technological forgiveness’, defined as the resilience of a new technology’s adoption to institutional instability. We conclude by proposing a generalizable framework for ‘forgiveness’ in different industrial contexts.

Keywords: additive manufacturing, technological uncertainty, institutional instability, latecomer countries, technology adoption, technological upgrading

JEL Classification: O250, O310, O320, O330, O380

Suggested Citation

Bonnin Roca, Jaime and Vaishnav, Parth and Morgan, M. Granger and Fuchs, Erica Renee and Mendonça, Joana, Technology Forgiveness: The Different Institutional Resilience of Polymer and Metal Additive Manufacturing in Portugal (November 23, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3077276 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3077276

Jaime Bonnin Roca (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Institute for Manufacturing ( email )

17 Charles Babbage Road
Cambridge, CB3 0FS
United Kingdom

Parth Vaishnav

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering & Public Policy ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

M. Granger Morgan

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Engineering and Public Policy ( email )

Baker Hall 129
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

Erica Renee Fuchs

Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Joana Mendonça

Technical University of Lisbon (UTL) ( email )

R. Miguel Lupi, 20
Lisbon, 1200
Portugal

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