Technological change (TC) or technological development is the overall process of invention, innovation and diffusion of technology or processes. In essence, technological change covers the invention of technologies (including processes) and their commercialization or release as open source via research and development (producing emerging technologies), the continual improvement of technologies (in which they often become less expensive), and the diffusion of technologies throughout industry or society (which sometimes involves disruption and convergence). In short, technological change is based on both better and more technology.
|History of technology|
In its earlier days, technological change was illustrated with the 'Linear Model of Innovation', which has now been largely discarded to be replaced with a model of technological change that involves innovation at all stages of research, development, diffusion, and use. When speaking about "modeling technological change," this often means the process of innovation. This process of continuous improvement is often modeled as a curve depicting decreasing costs over time (for instance fuel cell which have become cheaper every year). TC is also often modelled using a learning curve, ex.: Ct=C0 * Xt^-b
Technological change itself is often included in other models (e.g. climate change models) and was often taken as an exogenous factor. These days TC is more often included as an endogenous factor. This means that it is taken as something you can influence. Today, there are sectors that maintain the policy which can influence the speed and direction of technological change. For example, proponents of the Induced Technological Change hypothesis state that policymakers can steer the direction of technological advances by influencing relative factor prices and this can be demonstrated in the way climate policies impact the use of fossil fuel energy, specifically how it becomes relatively more expensive. Until now, the empirical evidence about the existence of policy-induced innovation effects is still lacking and this may be attributed to a variety of reasons outside the sparsity of models (e.g. long-term policy uncertainty and exogenous drivers of (directed) innovation). A related concept is the notion of Directed Technical Change with more emphasis on price induced directional rather than policy induced scale effects.
The creation of something new, or a "breakthrough" technology. This is often included in the process of product development and relies on research. This can be demonstrated in the invention of the spreadsheet software. Newly invented technologies are conventionally patented.
Main article: Diffusion of innovations
For the mathematical treatment of diffusion, see Logistic function.
Diffusion pertains to the spread of a technology through a society or industry. The diffusion of a technology theory generally follows an S-shaped curve as early versions of technology are rather unsuccessful, followed by a period of successful innovation with high levels of adoption, and finally a dropping off in adoption as a technology reaches its maximum potential in a market. In the case of a personal computer, it has made way beyond homes and into business settings, such as office workstations and server machines to host websites.
See also: Technical progress
In economics, technological change is a change in the set of feasible production possibilities.
A technological innovation is Hicks neutral, following John Hicks (1932), if a change in technology does not change the ratio of capital's marginal product to labour's marginal product for a given capital-to-labour ratio. A technological innovation is Harrod neutral (following Roy Harrod) if the technology is labour-augmenting (i.e. helps labor); it is Solow neutral if the technology is capital-augmenting (i.e. helps capital).