Title: Technological regime as a key concept in explaining technical inertia and change: a critical analysis

Authors: M.P.M. Franssen

Addresses: Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Section of Philosophy, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract: This paper presents a critical analysis of the concept of a technological regime, originally introduced as an analytical instrument to explain the dynamics of technical change. Most authors agree that regimes should be seen as sets of rules. However, I argue that there is much confusion among social theorists concerning the character of these rules, their relation to other concepts, such as norms, procedures, strategies, etc., and the level, such as individual, organisational, etc., where they apply. This confusion is linked to a distinction I make between an original, narrow, conception and a later, broader, conception of a technological regime, the latter incorporating considerably more of the social context of the technology in question. It is argued that the broader notion actually makes it harder to link technical development to the situations where individuals act, and thus harder to explain the shaping of the social world.

Keywords: technological change; technological regimes; technological paradigms; social theory; rules; social explanation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPM.2002.003153

International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 2002 Vol.2 No.4, pp.455-470

Published online: 13 Jul 2003 *

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