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The Emergence of Emerging Technologies

Ron Adner and Daniel A. Levinthal
California Management Review
Vol. 45, No. 1 (Fall 2002), pp. 50-66
DOI: 10.2307/41166153
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41166153
Page Count: 17
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Abstract

What is discontinuous about the moment of radical technological change? Discontinuity typically does not lie in a radical advancement in technology itself; rather, it stems from a shift of an existing technical lineage to a new domain of application. Seeming revolutions such as wireless communication and the Internet did not stem from an isolated technical breakthrough; rather, their spectacular commercial impact was achieved when an existing technology was re-applied in a new application domain. The biological notion of speciation events, which form the basis for the theory of punctuated equilibrium, can reconcile the process of incremental technical change with the radical change associated with the shift of an existing technology to a new application domain. This concept can assist managers to cope with, and potentially exploit, such change processes.

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