‘Little ships’: the co-evolution of technological capabilities and industrial dynamics in competing innovation networks

Blundel, Richard (2006). ‘Little ships’: the co-evolution of technological capabilities and industrial dynamics in competing innovation networks. Industry and Innovation, 13(3) pp. 313–334.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13662710600858886

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1366271...

Abstract

Recent agenda-setting exercises in the national innovation systems and industrial dynamics literatures have highlighted the unresolved methodological challenges faced by those seeking to explore the innovation process in a co-evolutionary perspective. The paper seeks to contribute to this debate by drawing upon the research methods and presentational conventions of business historians. The empirical study concerns the emergence of radical innovations in the design and manufacture of sailing dinghies in mid-20th century Britain. This period saw the displacement of small, highly localised firms engaged in traditional craft practices by a new generation of designers, manufacturers and promoters in pursuit of volume production. The findings are presented in the form of a historical narrative, contrasting the configurations and dynamics of two competing innovation networks in this sector. It shows how actors in each network drew differently on newly-available platform technologies, probes their distinctive approaches to design, manufacturing and marketing, and assesses their longer-term impact on the sector. The concluding section relates the findings to the previously-discussed theoretical constructs and reflects on the potential contribution of historically-informed methodologies.

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