Nanotechnology Development and Sub-Technologies Effect

By Al-Tameem, Abdullah Abdulaziz | Journal of Digital Information Management, February 2009 | Go to article overview

Nanotechnology Development and Sub-Technologies Effect


Al-Tameem, Abdullah Abdulaziz, Journal of Digital Information Management


Introduction

In science and technology (S&T) policy, biotechnology and nanotechnology are attracting the attention of practitioners and scholars alike (Greenfield, 2005). Some literature focuses on the significance and potential applications of biotechnology (Lee, 1998; Merkle, 1999) while other literature focuses on the significance and potential applications of nanotechnology (Laval et al., 1995; Jain, 2005). Yet another stream focuses on the combination of the two in the industrial and social context (Lawrence, 2002; Roco, 2003). This interaction suggests a level of co-evolution between the two technologies (Orive et al., 2003). However, it does not explain the kind of technological firms that are proximal to nanotechnologies in knowledge and institutions. Drawing on biotechnology as an antecedent, the researcher examines this as a route to nanotechnology in the bioscience and biomedical domains (Lee, 1998; Merkle, 1999). The rationale for selecting biotechnology is that it is an established discipline which provides conceptual models and frames relevant to nanotechnology (Roco, 2003). Therefore, logically, it is likely that the mature field may precede, and the maturing field may follow. However, irrespective of this sequence, there are some complementarities between the two technologies.

Both technologies are based on knowledge resources and system learning. Knowledge and learning resources are viewed as strategic capabilities that enable a system to compete, gain advantage and sustain the edge in the long run. Thus, the underlying assumption is that knowledge is the fundamental resources, capability and routine (Teece, 1977; Grant, 1996; Teece et al., 1997; Pavitt, 2002;). The purpose of this study is to examine the dynamics and evolution of the technological structures and the institutional structures in which they interact and co-evolve (Lundvall, 1998). The co-evolutionary change is driven by knowledge and learning. Therefore, it is logically essential that we define the domain and limitations of knowledge that nurture this interaction and co-evolution to tackle the less well understood issues in theory and practice. The researcher examines these issues in the following sequence: practical problem, research issues, research question, and, finally, perspectives on knowledge.

Nanotechnology is a cross-context transcending knowledge resource that emanates from variegated technological systems, and it contributes to variegated industrial technologies. Although we recognize that nanotechnological knowledge is becoming significant in high technological innovation and economic performance, it is empirically unclear what particular knowledge practice generates an effective system and economic performance in the convergence of biotechnology and nanotechnology. In the co-evolution between the two technology systems, the former provides models, biomaterials and processes; and the latter provides tools, science and technology platforms (Roco, 2003). This implies some causal ambiguities. The resolution of this ambiguity is sometimes essential to understand other aspects. It is important to determine the relationships between the S&T policies and their effectiveness. Defining practical problems, however, is less likely to be resolved without identifying a research problem. Therefore, an identification of the research problem is paramount here.

With regard to nanotechnology, several literature streams are emerging. The science-based literature focuses on research and development (R&D) policies, knowledge creation through inter-firm relationships and institutional development. These areas of concentration are regarded as antecedents of knowledge creation. The practice-orientated literature looks at the national context to examine the trends in R&D investment and S&T policy. For instance, Lux Research Inc., a consulting firm on nanotechnology, reports that some national innovation systems are better placed than others to advance nanotechnology (Hebert, 2005). …

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