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Patterns of expectations for emerging sustainable technologies

Floortje Alkemade and Roald A.A. Suurs

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2012, vol. 79, issue 3, 448-456

Abstract: Innovation is characterized by uncertainties, high risks, large investments and late returns on investment which make it a complex process. This is particularly true for sustainable innovation where market forces alone cannot be relied upon to realize the desired transitions. Insight in the dynamics of such innovation processes is necessary in order to influence technological change toward a more sustainable direction. However, few instruments and indicators are available to assess the performance of emerging technological innovation systems. In this phase competition often takes place based on expectations rather than on technological performance. This paper therefore focuses on the expectation patterns of technological innovation systems in the exploratory phase through the analysis of the expectation dynamics of three emerging technologies in the field of sustainable mobility within the Netherlands: biofuels, hydrogen as a transport fuel and natural gas as a transport fuel. These technologies do not only compete with the current fossil-fuel based system but also with each other. We have collected over 5000 expectation events regarding these technologies for the period 2000–2008 and discuss the insights generated by the comparison of the observed expectation dynamics to theoretical patterns.

Keywords: Expectation dynamics; Sustainable innovation; Hype cycles; Innovation systems; Functions of innovation systems; Biofuels; Hydrogen; Natural gas (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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