Awareness, institutional entrepreneurship, and contradictions in emerging technological fields

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

Despite extensive research on the emergence of technological fields and industries, a comprehensive theoretical explanation of what enables or inhibits the emergence of these fields has yet to be developed. To this extent, previous research has been unable to offer satisfactory theoretical explanations of the emergence and socio-cognitive dynamics of novel technological fields. This thesis thus sets out to study the emergence of awareness and institutional entrepreneurship in novel technological fields, and the contradictions that result from emergence. As a more general contribution, the thesis aims at advancing understanding about emergence and socio-cognitive dynamics in novel technological fields. Towards this end, an institutional sociological approach to study the interplay between the micro and macro-level emergent properties in novel technological fields is outlined. This approach provides a theoretical and analytical foundation to study the central socio-cognitive dynamics that pattern the emergence of technological fields. The thesis thus sets out firstly, to identify the distinct stages, dynamics, and paths in technology field emergence, specifically focusing on the socio-cognitive micro and macro-level properties. Secondly, the thesis intends to advance a socio-cognitive analysis of the central elements that influence the emergence of institutional entrepreneurship and awareness in novel technological fields, and how agency and awareness are related. Thirdly, the thesis aims to determine how the institutional properties of the prevailing and emergent technological fields enable and constrain technology field emergence. Specifically, the focus is on understanding how institutional contradictions have an impact on the strategies available to institutional entrepreneurs and their ability to advance field emergence. To explore these avenues of research, a multiple exploratory case study on the emergence of four technological fields, functional foods, well-being technologies, electronic publishing and printing, and modular constructional steel, was carried out. The study takes a multi-level approach, focusing on field-level, organizational-level, and individual-level emergent phenomena and their relationship. National technology programs in Finland executed during 1995-2005 were chosen as the empirical contexts to study the socio-cognitive dynamics and the emergence of technological fields. Institutional contradictions were traced to their foundations in order to account for the challenges of institutional entrepreneurship and to trace the socio-cognitive base that the emergent field challenged. The empirical analysis shows how emergence is centrally dependent on the degree of institutional contradictions that arise between institutional carriers of the predominant field and the emergent field, and how strong these contradictions are perceived to be by the relevant actors. Depending on whether institutional contradictions are weak or strong they confront actors with different socio-cognitive dynamics. The distinction between strong and weak institutional contradictions helps to understand the different options and viable strategies for institutional work by institutional entrepreneurs. The thesis provides conceptual and methodological advances for studying the emergence of technological fields. To the practical end, the thesis provides a valuable understanding of the social and cognitive dynamics of emerging technological fields; these are useful for further directing innovation policy towards distinct contextual and institutional conditions.
Translated title of the contributionAwareness, institutional entrepreneurship, and contradictions in emerging technological fields
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Maula, Markku, Supervising Professor
  • Autio, Erkko, Supervising Professor
  • Autio, Erkko, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-248-257-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-248-258-7
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Keywords

  • technological fields
  • institutional entrepreneurship
  • awareness
  • institutional contradictions
  • socio-cognitive dynamics

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