Paradigms and Trajectories of Technological Opportunities 1890–1990

An Evolutionary Economics and Patent Statistics Approach
  • Birgitte Andersen


This chapter examines the evolution of technological opportunities historically. The disciplinary approach is evolutionary economics combined with patent statistics. By analysing the complexities behind changing technological opportunities, technological paradigms governing the evolutionary process of change are traced empirically. Evidence shows how the path-dependent evolution of technological opportunities is characterised by ‘creative, incremental, accumulation’, as it is revealed how new technological systems with new opportunities build upon (complement and extend) the knowledge embodied in old ones, rather than substitute them. Evidence also reveals how the evolution of technological opportunities has become increasingly interrelated, wider-ranging and complex, in which trajectories previously following isolated channels of development are brought together. Finally, evidence shows how typical technological trajectories of broad technological groups explain technological evolution better than the conventional aggregate measures of such broad technological fields.


Technological Group Patent Statistic Technological Sector Postwar Period Technological Opportunity 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Birgitte Andersen
    • 1
  1. 1.BirkbeckUniversity of LondonUK

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