Evolutionary innovation : Early industrial uses of genetic engineering

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: Based on an analysis of biological and economic theories of evol~tion, this dissertation first specifies evolutionary innovation and then uses it toanalyze early industrial uses of genetic engineering. Innovation refers totechnological innovation processes, i.e. series of innovative activitiesresulting in technical change. An evolutionary pattern of technical changewould include multiple innovative activities; transmission and retention ofknowledge and techniques among the population of agents which innovates; selection of technical alternatives in response to environmental conditions; and an assumption of non-optimization.This theoretical foundation is confronted with historical case studies. Inparticular, the comparison focuses on the American biotech firm Genentech and the Swedish pharmaceutical firm Kabi as they developed genetic engineering as the basis of production for the pharmaceutical human growth hormone. These are two of the earliest industrial uses of genetic engineering and required significant scientific research as well as both radical and incremental technical developments. The period analyzed is from scientific research using genetic engineering in the late 1970s to government approval of the pharmaceuticals in the mid-1980s. These chapters analyze how and why innovative agents generated novelty and diversity; how and why they selected technical alternatives; and/or influenced the environmental conditions.The co;,cluding chapter re-analyzes the historical materiaL Finally, basedon- the perspective of evolutionary and eo-evolutionary innovation, five special issues relevant to research on technological innovation are addressed, namely: 1) Radical versus incremental changes; 2) Lock-in of incremental trajectories within firms; 3) Capability or perception to generate novelty; 4) Environments, agents, and innovative activities; and 5) Cross stimulus of scientific research and technical development.

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