Title: Technology life-cycles and business decisions

Authors: Thomas H. Lee, Nebojsa Nakicenovic

Addresses: Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; formerly Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria. ' International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria

Abstract: Although the general phenomena of technology life-cycle have been known for a long time, quantitative description is still controversial. In the majority of cases, an S-curve fits the phenomena well. There are cases, however, that deviate from S-curves significantly. There is also the question of whether in real life the curve is as symmetrical as a pure S-curve. In real-life business situations, these arguments are rather academic. This paper shows that the life-cycle concept can he useful to decision-making in spite of the imperfect status. The authors first show that there may he more than one attribute of a technology that follows the S-pattern. They then point out the danger of using one attribute alone. The authors also illustrate the usefulness of the concept for contingency planning. and the phenomenon of multiple S-curves.

Keywords: technology life cycles; business decisions; contingency planning; investment; decisions; R&D decisions; S-curves; research and development; technology management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.1988.025978

International Journal of Technology Management, 1988 Vol.3 No.4, pp.411 - 426

Published online: 26 May 2009 *

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