- The Emergence of a New Technology: A Multi-Perspective Analysis on the Case of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Molecular Diagnostic Tests (Rotolo D., Hopkins M., Rafols I.)
Abstract: Emerging technologies are sources of new industries and sub-sectors as well as they represent important drivers for technological change. Given the central role emerging technologies play, we aim to investigate the phenomenon of emergence in order to reveal its complexity. To this end, by drawing on an institutional-evolutional framework, we use a case study approach that combines a multi-perspective investigation with mixed qualitative-quantitative analyses, i.e. historical analysis, interviews, and advanced bibliometric techniques. Precisely, we investigate the process of emergence for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) molecular diagnostic tests since its conception in the 1980s. This technology is one of the most promising technologies for the cervical cancer screening that accounts for an extremely large market of 100+ million tests performed annually. Preliminary analysis shows the emergence of HPV diagnostics mainly driven by the potential the technology has for the development of more reliable tests as well as companies seeking for new technological opportunities to compete with Pap test and profit from these. In addition, we show that an emerging technology, rather than replacing, may co-exist with established ones especially in those institutional environments characterized by strong regulations and entrenched institutions.
- The Trajectory Is on the Map, but We Miss the Pathways (Ciarli T., Rafols I., Rotolo D.)
Abstract: How do specific technologies emerge? How do we represent past technological trajectories, and how does this help us in understanding the range of possible technological directions? A large number of contributions have discussed the dynamics of technology (or technical change) and/or of scientific knowledge from different disciplines -- economics, sociology, management and history -- and from a range of deviant fields (or ‘illegitimate children’) such as evolutionary economics, STS or Science Policy. In spite of acute contrasts, there is a wide conceptual agreement on the evolutionary nature of technological development. Such evolution is characterised by contingency, path-dependency, lock-in, and etcetera. However, the empirical description of technological trajectories is strongly linked to the disciplinary focus and associated tools. Some tell rich narratives (Hughes, 1983; Noble 1984), weave qualitative socio-technical networks (Latour, 1993) or institutional tapestries (Geels, 2002), while others focus on performance measures (Grubler , 2012), cognitive maps (Noyons, 2000), or quantitative network descriptions (Verspagen, 2007). Here we aim at confronting different bodies of literature and discussing whether or how they can be combined to produce quantitative analyses of technological trajectories and innovation pathways (and how do trajectories and pathways differ). We first survey the literature on the conceptual main dimensions that shape the trajectories and constitute the pathways of a specific technology. We then survey the dimensions that have been captured so far by quantitative methods of mapping trajectories. We discuss how the included dimensions differ between these two approaches. We expect the presentation to stir debate on our understanding of the relation between the representation of technological directions (mapping) and their (qualitative) explanations.
- Difficulties of Counting R&D Spend (Hopkins M.)
Abstract: Two ways to analyse the progress and development of R&D in emerging biotechnologies are apparent: the analysis of reported or aggregate statistics for R&D and the use of proxies such as patents or publications. This paper discusses the weaknesses in using R&D statistics from public and private sources, drawing upon the literature on social factors contributing to classification. Following a review of available data sources and interviews with researchers who have conducted studies in the field, we conclude that there are endemic weaknesses in the availability and quality of data for R&D, and that the logistical barriers to collecting data of consistent quality make them effectively impractical. We therefore conclude that the pursuit of proxies is more likely to be fruitful for studies of emerging biotechnologies.
- Innovation as a Nonlinear Process, the Scientometric Perspective, and the Specification of an “Innovation Opportunities Explorer" (Leydesdorff L., Rotolo D., de Nooy W.)
Abstract: The process of innovation follows non-linear patterns across the domains of science, technology, and the economy. Novel bibliometric mapping techniques can be used to investigate and represent distinctive, but complementary perspectives on the innovation process (e.g., “demand” and “supply”) as well as the interactions among these perspectives. The perspectives can be represented as “continents” of data related to varying extents over time. For example, the different branches of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the Medline database provide sources of such perspectives (e.g., “Diseases” versus “Drugs and Chemicals”). The multiple-perspective approach enables us to reconstruct facets of the dynamics of innovation, in terms of selection mechanisms shaping localizable trajectories and/or resulting in more globalized regimes. By expanding the data with patents and scholarly publications, we demonstrate the use of this multi-perspective approach in the case of RNA Interference (RNAi). The possibility to develop an “Innovation Opportunities Explorer” is specified.
- Towards Indicators for ‘Opening Up’ Science and Technology Policy (Rafols I., Ciarli T., van Zwanenberg P., Stirling A.)
Abstract: Recent years have seen much critical debate over the simplistic use of scientometric tools for formal or informal appraisal of science and technology (S&T) organisations (e.g. in university rankings) or individuals (e.g. the h-index) (Roessner, 2000; Van Raan, 2004; Weingart, 2005). As a reaction to these critiques, efforts have been made to improve the robustness of measurements by broadening the range of inputs considered in scientometric evaluations. Examples include the inclusion of books and national or regional journals (Martin et al. 2010), or more recently ‘altmetrics’ (i.e. metrics based on alternative data sources, see Priem et al., 2010). In doing so, the S&T indicator and policy communities have reverted to an early conventional wisdom that scientometrics should rely on multiple sources of data that may provide ‘converging partial indicators’ (Martin and Irvine, 1983).While this ‘broadening out’ of the range of data used as ‘inputs’ in scientometric appraisal is, in our view, commendable (Stirling, 2003), we propose in this paper that a second dimension also needs to be considered. This relates to the extent to which the ‘outputs’ of appraisal ‘open up’ contrasting conceptualisations of the phenomena under scrutiny and consequently allow for more considered and rigorous attention to alternative policy options, both by decision makers and within wider policy debate (Stirling, 2005; Stirling et al., 2007, pp. 54- 58; Leach et al., 2010 pp. 102-107).
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