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Paper info: Technological Trajectories and Path Dependence


Technological Trajectories and Path Dependence


Debbie Harrison
Norwegian School of Management
Debbie Harrison and
Luis Araujo
University of Manchester
United Kingdom
Luis Araujo

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 16th IMP-conference in Bath, U.K in 2000.


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This paper is concerned with the notion of path dependence as a framework to understand technological trajectories. The notion of path dependence has been deployed in the economic history and historical sociology literatures to explain sequences of events related mainly to technological and institutional evolution. We adopt a notion of path-dependence that subdivides sequences of events into self-reinforcing and reactive sequences. We further propose that path dependent sequences can be recast in terms of the agency-structure dualism set in a relational-temporal context. In the second part of the paper, we introduce a case study that illustrates the usefulness of path dependence as a general framework to understand the technological trajectory of the division of a firm involved in a complex change process. Finally, we discuss the implications of using path dependence as a tool to understand change processes in firms and industrialnetworks.