Technological evolution at the producer-consumer interface
This dissertation examines technological evolution in the tennis racket industry. Conventional narratives of the industry highlight three racket designs--oversize, widebody, and longbody--as the innovations that shaped technological development. However, we identified other innovative designs that were technically at least as good as the three designs. Based on this observation of the failure of technically sound innovations, we attempt to explain differential success of racket designs by focusing on the nature of the selection environment. In particular, we emphasize the role of consumer demand as a critical component of the selection environment. Previous studies on technological evolution have primarily focused on the supply-side issues such as firm behavior in generating innovations and the firm's interaction with the institutional environment. While consumer demand has often been mentioned as an important factor in technological evolution, few studies have explicitly investigated the issue in detail. Contrary to von Hippel's study that emphasized users as a source of innovations, this study addresses how firms can change consumer preferences and how the direction of technological development is affected by the firm's action. Analyses of new racket introduction data since the 1970s and sales data in the 1990s demonstrate that endorsement by top professional players, a proxy of innovator's attempts to influence the market response, has significant effects on the probability of a racket design replication by competing firms and racket sales. In addition, some of the design quality measures are significant, while the effects of innovating firm's characteristics are inconsistent. We also find that professional endorsement increases the probability of technological paradigm emergence. This dissertation shows that innovators have to carefully consider how to deliver their products to consumers, in addition to high performance of an innovation. This resonates Schumpeter's idea of entrepreneurship. He not only noted the constructive nature of consumer preferences but also emphasized the active role played by the entrepreneur in shaping them. Furthermore, by considering unsuccessful as well as successful innovations in the model, this study not only provides a more realistic picture of technological evolution but also directs our attention to the complex nature of the evolutionary process.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||Kim, Hann Ohl|
|Type of publication:||Other|
Dissertations available from ProQuest
Saved in favorites
Similar items by subject
Find similar items by using search terms and synonyms from our Thesaurus for Economics (STW).