Prometheus: Vol 15, No 3 (1997)

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HTSF Marketing and Customer Education: A Role for a Technology Awareness Programme?
Pages: 293-308


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
Pages: 309-327


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
Pages: 329-343


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
Pages: 345-356


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?
Pages: 357-367


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
Pages: 369-386


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
Pages: 387-398


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
Pages: 399-407


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.

Book review
Beyond Competition: The Future of Telecommunications, Donald M. Lamberton (Ed.), Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1995, viii + 416 pp., AU$177.25, ISBN 0 4448 2252 6
Albert Richards
Pages: 409-411

Book review
Innovation, Welfare and Industrial Structure: An Evolutionary Analysis, Timothy M. Wakeley, Aldershot, Avebury, 1997, xiii + 173 pp., £32.50, ISBN 1 8597 2391 8
John Foster
Pages: 412-413

Book review
For the Common Good: CSIRO and Public Sector Research and Development, Peter Ewer (Ed.), Sydney, Pluto Press, 1995, ix + 102 pp., AU$19.95, ISBN 1 8640 3024 0
Jenny Stewart
Pages: 413-416

Book review
The Diffusion of Information Technology: Experience of Industrial Countries and Lessons for Developing Countries, A World Bank Discussion Paper, No. 281, Nagy Hanna, Ken Guy & Erik Arnold, Washington, DC, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The World Bank, 1995, xix + 207 pp., ISBN 0 8213 3216 3
Rhoda Reyes
Pages: 416-419

Book review
Local Matters—Perspectives on the Globalisation of Technology, John Phillimore (Ed.), Perth, Western Australia, Institute for Science and Technology Policy Murdoch University, 1995, xii + 186pp., AU$ 15.00, ISBN 0 8690 5411 2
Ernst-Olav Ruhle
Pages: 419-422

Book review
The Shaping of Automation: A Historical Analysis of the Interaction Between Technology and Organization 1950–1985, Dirk de Wit, Hilversum, Uitgeverij Verloren, 1994, 409 pp., f 69, ISBN 9 0655 0414 1
Paul K. Couchman
Pages: 422-424

Book review
Managers and Innovation: Strategies for a Biotechnology, John Howells, London, Routledge, 1994, xii + 241 pp., £42.00, ISBN 0 4150 8590 X
Lyndal Thorburn
Pages: 424-427

Book review
Women in Science, Engineering and Technology, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Advisory Group, Office of the Chief Scientist, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Canberra, Australia, Australian Govemment Publishing Service, 1995, 78pp., Free, ISBN 0 6444 5467 9
Andrew H. Wilson
Pages: 427-430

Book review
The Environmental Imperative: Eco-social Concerns for Australian Agriculture, Frank Vanclay & Geoffrey Lawrence, Rockhampton, Australia, Central Qyeensland University Press, 1995, xxvi + 203 pp., AU$19.95 ISBN 1 8759 9800 4
Andrew Monk
Pages: 430-433

Book review
The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity, Thomas K. Landauer, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1995, x + 425 pp. US$27.50 (hbk), ISBN 0 262 1 2186 7
Stephen E. Little
Pages: 433-436

Book review
The Politics of Space: A History of US-Soviet/Russian Competition, Matthew J. Von Bencke, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1997, viii + 264 pp., US$49.95, ISBN 0 8133 3192 7
Alan Marshall
Pages: 436-439

Book review
Economics and Biology, Geoffr ey M. Hodgson (Ed.), Aldershot, Edward Elgar, 1995, xxv + 598 pp., AU$233.75, ISBN 1 8589 8050 X
John Laurent
Pages: 439-442

Failure and Lessons Learned in Infonnation Technology Management: An International Journal, Jay Liebowitz (Editor-in-Chief), New York, Sydney, Tokyo, Cognizant Communication Corporation, ISBN 1088-128X
Page: 443

Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, Julia Knight and Alexis Weedon (Eds), Luton, John Libbey Media, ISSN 1354-8565
Page: 443

Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, Pieter J. Fourie (Ed.), Pretoria, South Africa, University of South Africa, ISSN 0250-0167
Page: 443

Communication Research Trends: A Quarterly Review of Communfcarion Research W.E. Berinatski, SJ (Ed.), St Louis, Missouri, Center fir the Study of Communication and Culture, St Louis University, ISSN 0144-4646
Pages: 443-444

White Paper on Science and Technology: Preparing for the 21st Century, South African Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Pretoria, Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, 1996, 47 pp., ISBN 0 6211 7590 0
Page: 444

Handbook of Conununication Technologies 1996: Telecommunications and Corporate Networking in Southern Africa and Selected African Countries, BMi TechKnowledge, Johannesburg, International Data Corporation, South Africa, 1996, 377 pp., no ISBN auailable
Page: 444

Empowering Communities in the Informacion Society: Conference Proceedings, Compiled by J.D. Berlyn, Development Bank of South Africa, 1996, 215 pp., ISBN 1 9196 9213 4
Page: 444

Effects on Ernpfoyrnent of the Liberalisation of the Telecommunications Sector, BIPE Conseil, IFO Institute (Munich) and LENTIC Institute (Liège), Brussels, European Commission (DG V and DG XIII), 1997, 280 pp., no ISBN available
Pages: 444-445

Multimedia—Potentials and Challenges from an Economic Perspective, Dieter Elixmann & Peter Kürble (Eds), Bad Honnef, Wissenschaftliches Institut für Kommunikationsdienste (WIK), 1996, 260 pp., ISSN 1431-066X
Page: 445

Technikfolgenabschätzung und Technikgestaltung in der Telekommunikation, Franz Büllingen (Ed.), Bad Honnef, Wissenschofiliches Institut für Kommunikationsdienste (WIK), 1996, 360 pp., ISSN 1431-066X
Page: 445

The Urban Research Program: 1966–1996, Patrick Troy, Canberra, Urban Research Program, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1997, 78 pp., ISBN 0 7315 2812 3
Page: 445

Rural and All: Report of the Working Party Investigating the Developmenr of Online Infrastructure and Services Development in Regional and Rural Australia, Information Policy Advisory Council, Canberra, Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts, 1997, iii + 94 pp., ISBN 0 6422 7156 9
Pages: 445-446

Australian Telecommunications Regulation: The Conmmunications Law Centre Guide, Communications Law Centre, Sydney, University of New South Wales, Communications Law Centre, 1997, iii + 144 pp., AU$45.00, ISBN 0 7334 1554 7
Page: 446

Rural Australia OnLine, Roger Buckeridge, Canberra, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, 1996, vi + 58 pp., AU$20.00, ISBN 0 6422 0519 0
Page: 446

International Telecommunications Reform in Australia, Industry Commission, Canberra, Industry Commission, 1997, xii + 90 pp., ISBN 0 6443 8221 X
Page: 446

Telecommunications Economics and Policy Issues, Industry Commission, Canberra, Industry Commission, 1997, xx + 179pp., ISBN 0 6443 9784 5
Page: 446

Regulatory Implications of Telecommunications Convergence, David N. Townsend, Geneva, International Telecommunication Union, 1997, iii + 73 pp., ISBN 9 2610 6441 8
Page: 447

Brilliant Careers: Women Collectors and Illustrators in Queensland, Compiled by Judith McKay, Brisbane, Queensland Museum, 1997, vii + 80 pp., AU$19.95, ISBN 0 7242 7693 9
Page: 447

An Automation Policy for Australia: Advanced Technology at Work for the Nation, Australian Robot Association, Sydney, Australian Robot Association, 1995, v + 35 pp., AU$20.00, ISBN 0 6463 2509 5
Page: 447

Page: 449