Technological innovation and local authorities: a case-study of the Greater London Council (GLC)

Mole, Veronica Claire (1989). Technological innovation and local authorities: a case-study of the Greater London Council (GLC). PhD thesis The Open University.



The research presented in the thesis is a'case-study of a 'socially-directed' technology policy, formulated and implemented by the Greater London Council (GLC) whilst in office, between 1981 and 1986. The GLC attempted to make a direct link between technological innovation and social needs by creating the facilities, in the form of five 'Technology Networks'. for user involvement in socially-useful product design and development.

The research is important for an exploration of technology issues. First, it represents an attempt to influence the politics of technological development. Second. it addresses issues of the content of technology and the social organisation of the innovation process.

The Technology Networks comprised the focal points of the research. The objectives were the identification of the factors, both locally and nationally, which affected the policy implementation process. For the GLC, the national economic and political context proved crucial to policy developments: it resulted in their abolition in 1986. The Technology Networks remained in operation, but were increasingly plagued by funding difficulties.

Findings from the study suggest that the access of a different range of social groups of users and producers to the early stages of the innovation process. may be a valuable exercise in itself. but is problematic as a base for an alternative technology policy. Other major constraints on the development of socially-useful technologies are manufacturing and market opportunities. The conclusions are concerned to explore the potential of a local authority as an agent of technological change, in terms of their role in design and technology education and the creation of an alternative technological hegemony.

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