Technological Change in an International Industrial System

University dissertation from Ekonomihögskolan

Abstract: Industrial systems resist change, more often, because heavy production facilities and industrial constructions are expensive and have long economic lives, but also because people tend to defend ingrained conceptions of how things are and how activities ought to be performed. Starting out from the question: “How does technological change come about in an international, industrial system?” the thesis investigates the interplay between technological, social, and economic factors. Empirically the work is located to the steel and metals industries and covers business exchange within and between several economic entities performing international business operations.It is shown that technological change is driven by strategic intention, but that it also occurs as a result of chance or “necessity”, or follows on everyday enterprise operations. In an attempt to realize strategic intentions actors involve in games of negotiation while referring to different power bases. Backed by organizational role (hierarchic level/managerial position), personal “luminosity” (charisma/leadership), or control over critical resources (that other actors are interested in) various arguments are put to the test on “the arena for negotiations and change”. While involving in negotiations actors may relate to existing business and/or social relations for support or they may take advantage of full-blown coalitions.Constrained by the games of negotiation, which unfold in an institutional environment, the process of technological change adopts evidently evolutionary characteristics, and it follows implicitly that the single actor has at its disposal only limited possibilities to determine the process outcome. Technological change as an evolutionary process consists of three underlying sub-processes, viz. innovation, interaction, and institutionalization, it is argued.