Does Technology Dictate Change, or Change Dictate Technology?

Essay by DrXUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2003

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Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes (Burton-Jones, 1999). Adoption of technological developments through to utilization is characterised in two very different ways, technology transfer and technology diffusion (Cottrill et al, 1989).

Technology transfer refers to the development of technology in one setting that is then transferred for use in another setting. The technological innovation is focused on the originator with successful transfer being recognised through acceptance by the end user (Market, 1993). In contrast, technology diffusion relates directly to the end user and as the term suggests it depicts the spreading or use of technological innovations within a society, organisation, or group of individuals (Rogers, 1995).

Adoption of new technology, though appearing to be significant departures from tradition, are in reality rooted in it, trailing usually unrecorded strands of history which weave back in time along seemingly unrelated paths (Sundbo, 1998). For example the creation of the Internet would not have been possible without the development of telecommunications and that in turn would not have been possible without the discovery of electricity.

An analysis of the second age provides some explanations to the relationship between technology and change. From appendix 1 it can be seen that this era consists of three significant phases; the steam phase; the electric phase; and the atomic phase (Jones, 1982). In 1926 Nikolai Kondratiev, a Russian economist, offered his 'Long Waves in Economic Life' proposal that was based on a study of the European and USA economies between 1789 to 1920. He concluded that important discoveries and inventions were made during the period of the rise of the long waves, the economic up swing. At an organisational level there are many explanations for this phenomena including: -

qMechanisation aiding higher productivity

qHigher volumes of production creating favourable economies of...