Working Paper Ircres-CNR 03/2016                              
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Technology Modelling and Technology Innovation

How a technology model may be useful in studying the innovation process

Angelo Bonomi*
Research Associate
National Research Council of Italy, Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth,
Via Real Collegio 30, Moncalieri (TO)

Mario Andrea Marchisio
Associate Professor School of Life Science and Technology,
Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, People’s Republic of China


* Corresponding author:

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Abstract: This work concerns an extension of a mathematical model of technology developed at the Santa Fe Institute in the late nineties. It is based on analogies existing between technological and biological evolution and not on economic principles. This extension has the purpose to make the model useful in the studies of the innovation process.  The model considers technology activity, independently of possible economic purposes, and having its own properties, structure, processes as well as an evolution independently by economic factors but more similar to biologic evolution.  Considered purpose of technology is reaching of a technical result and not necessarily an economic result. The model considers technology as a structured set of technological operations that may be represented by a graph or matrix. That opens a description of a technology in term of technological spaces and landscapes, as well as in term of spaces of technologies, in which it is possible to represent search of optimal and evolutive paths of technologies, changes in their efficiency and measure of their radical degree linked to their technological competitiveness. The model is presented in a descriptive way and its mathematical development is presented in annex. The main applications of the model concern the use of the defined radical degree of a technology linked to its technological competitiveness. In this way it is explained the existence of Red Queen Regimes, characterized by continuous technical but not economical developments, among firms producing the same product. Such regimes are disrupted only by the entering of a technology with a high radical degree. Changes in operational structure of technologies may suggest the existence of three types of technology innovations, the first concerning learning by doing and consisting in minor changes giving incremental innovations, the second and the third, both able to obtain radical innovations through R&D activity, but the second exploiting scientific results and the third based only on a combinatory process of pre-existing technologies. This last way of innovation may explain the innovative potential, existing for example in Italian industrial districts, without resorting to any scientific research.


Keywords: technology model, technology innovation, research & development, learning by doing

JEL Codes: C60, D20, D21, O30




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