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HTSF Marketing and Customer Education: A Role for a Technology Awareness Programme?
NARESH PANDIT , G. M. PETER SWANN & TIM WATTS
This article looks at the rationale for government-sponsored technology awareness programmes in very new areas of technology, with special reference to virtual reality technology. For some high technology small firms (HTSFs) operating in new areas, marketing costs can be high even before sales are made because the HTSF has to invest in educating customers. If the pioneering firm does not appropriate the benefits of this investment because it does not make a sale—but later entrants do—then there is a positive externality that may in principle give rise to market failure. The article examines the relevance of the three traditional sources of market failure in this context. It finds that market failure provides a less compelling rationale for proactive policy than more recent evolutionary analyses of path-dependence in technology diffusion. The article shows how the optimal design of a technology awareness programme depends on the underlying economic rationale for the programme.
Catching Up or Marking Time? Technology Transfer and Market Fragmentation in Australia
Australia was a latecomer to industrialisation, dependent on the importation of ‘foreign’ technology to help ‘catch up’. While such a strategy can lead to entrenched structural dependence, a dynamic variant of product cycle theory suggests that windows of opportunity for genuine catching up are created at times of transition to new technological systems or paradigms. Such conditions arose in Australia in the 1920s with the emerging shift from natural to synthetic materials. By studying the subsequent development of a local synthetic resin industry, this article highlights the way technology transfer processes can affect market structure and behaviour, and the cumulative effect of the resulting industrial weaknesses.
Innovation and the Patent Attorney
STUART MACDONALD & BERNARD LEFANG
Patents, as one of the few quantifiable outputs of research, are increasingly being used as an indicator of the less quantifiable—innovation, and the competitiveness that is assumed to spring from innovation—on the grounds that these, too, are outputs of research. The part that patents actually play in innovation has become confused with their representational role. This article steps back from the confusion of what patents do and what patents indicate being done, to examine the nexus itself. In good patent tradition, this can be achieved by means of an indicator—the patent attorney. Increased involvement of the patent attorney in innovation would seem to be a reasonable measure of the intensification of the patent-innovation nexus. On the implications of this intensification, the article merely speculates, though with some consternation. How can the logic of the patent system sustain the argument that information is protected so that it can be disclosed when increased incentive to protect is in conflict with the incentive to disclose? What role is there for creativity and serendipity in an innovation process that is legalistic and litigious? It is even worth considering what value patents retain as indicators when growing acceptance of their association with innovation gives them a value in their own right. Indeed, this value may sometimes be so great that innovation itself is rendered irrelevant.
Reluctance to Innovate: A Case Study of the Titanium Dioxide Industry
DALLAS HANSON , JOHN STEEN & PETER LIESCH
An autopoietic explanation is offered to explain the reluctance of a major international manufacturer of titanium dioxide to adopt a production process that might have enabled it to retain competitive advantage. Alternative explanations which focus solely on economic considerations and innovation difficulties are discussed, but it is concluded that they are merely part of an autopoietic explanation of a cultural blanket which engulfed the organisation. To support the argument, case evidence is presented on Tioxide’s operations with a focus on Burnie, Tasmania.
The United States and the Global Information Infrastructure: Orchestrator, Functionary, or Mediator?
EDWARD A. COMOR
This article examines the position of the American state in contemporary information and communication sector globalisation activities. Through an assessment of the role played by the United States in Uruguay Round GA TT services and intellectual property rights provisions and related global information infrastructure developments, the author argues that advancements in analytical precision and subsequent strategic opportunity can be attained by conceptualising the American state as a complex mediator of emerging national and transnational corporate-based interests.
Stormy Weather: Grid-connected Solar and Wind Energy in Victoria
This article deals with the treatment of grid-connected solar and wind energy in the Australian state of Victoria during the period from the mid-1970s to 1994. Traditionally, electricity authorities and governments tend to dismiss these options claiming that they are too expensive and only produce intermittent power. Proponents of solar and wind energy dispute this, arguing that such assessments ignore the significant environmental benefits of renewable energy. In this article it is argued that an explanation for the treatment of renewable energy needs to start from an analysis of the structure and development of the electricity supply industry, and the political processes which have shaped the industry. This history shows that the neglect of solar and wind energy in Victoria was influenced more by electricity planning considerations and the political agenda of the Victorian ALP government than by economic and technical criteria.
Plant Pathology in Western Australia: The Contributions of an Australian Woman Scientist
Very few women after the second World War made agricultural science their first career choice. Olga May Goss, however, in her 35 years in the Western Australian Department of Agriculture, saved more than one industry from ruin, thus contributing in no small measure to the economic prosperity of her state and her country. It was by chance that, after a serious illness, Goss was offered a post in the Department to work on plant diseases. The only woman in her Section, Goss faced personal as well as legislative discrimination; nevertheless over the years she tackled many problems confronting growers and through her research illuminated several areas of plant pathology, notably bacteriology and nematology. This article describes the career of this woman who was not only an excellent scientist but also a rare human being.
A Contextualising, Socio-technical Definition of Technology: Learning from Ancient Greece and Foucault
The task of defining technology has had an unhappy history. It seems that agreement about what technology is—and even if a definition should be sought at all—has not been reached. This article argues that a definition is possible and should be sought. The etymology of the word technology suggests that it has long had a socio-technical meaning and, furthermore, Foucault’s definition of four types of technologies suggests a framework in which a socio-technical definition of technology can be usefully detailed. In this case the definition helps to provide a broad and deeply contextual understanding of what technology is (in its tangible and intangible forms), the processes which it influences and the processes which influence it.