Technology Forgiveness: Why emerging technologies differ in their resilience to institutional instability

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Long-term public support may encourage the diffusion of emerging technologies by coordinating the generation of knowledge and providing patient funding, but unexpected policy changes may hinder private investment and even lead to situations of technology lockout. Leveraging archival data; insights from 45 interviews across academia, industry, and government; and 75 hours of participant observations, we develop insights about why institutional instability in Portugal affected the adoption of Polymer Additive Manufacturing (PAM) and Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) differently. In both cases, Portugal invested in the technology relatively early. While PAM has been widely adopted, including increasingly in high-tech applications, MAM adoption has been modest despite MAM's potential to greatly improve the performance and competitiveness of metal molds. From the comparison between PAM and MAM, we generate theory about technological and contextual factors that affect ‘technological forgiveness’, defined as the resilience of a new technology's adoption to institutional instability.

Additive manufacturing
Technological uncertainty
Institutional instability
Latecomer countries
Technology adoption
Technological upgrading
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Date Published: 
May 2021
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Full Citation: 
Roca, Jaime B., Parth Vaishnav, M. Granger Morgan, Erica Fuchs, and Joana Mendonça (2021) “Technology Forgiveness: Why emerging technologies differ in their resilience to institutional instability.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 166(120599): 1-19.
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