"The new technologies: An integrated view"

1986. From the original Spanish, ”Las Nuevas Tecnologías, una Visión de Conjunto” in Carlos Ominami ed., La Tercera Revolución Industrial: Impactos Internacionales del Actual Viraje Tecnológico, RIAL,Grupo Editor Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires, pp. 43-90 ISBN : 950-9432-65-2

Also published en Estudios Internacionales, Año XIX, Oct.-Dic. 1986 No.76, pp. 420-459,Santiago de Chile

English translation by the author

WP: “The new technologies: An integrated view”, July, 1986, TOC/TUT WP No. 19, WPs in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics The Other Canon Foundation, Norway and Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn

Link: http://hum.ttu.ee/wp/paper19.pdf (194kb)

Table of Contents:

I. How to put some order into the variety of technical change
II. Techno-economic paradigm as "common sense" models in the productive sphere
III.Structural change and socio-institutional transformation
IV. An exploration of the features of the new paradigm
A. New guiding concepts for incremental product innovations
B. New trajectories for radical product innovations
A. Energy and materials: saving, recycling and diversification
B. Flexibility in plant: diversity in products
C. Technological dynamism: Design as an integral part of production
D. Supply adapted to the shape of demand
A. Systemation: The firm as an integrated network
B. "On line" adjustment of production to market demand
C. Centralization and decentralization
V. New technologies and new paradigm
A. Complementarity within the productive system as a whole
B. Complementarity at the level of the ideal model of production
C. Technological convergence: Bioelectronics
D. Factors which can influence the direction of biotechnology
VI. Technological transition and development prospects
A. The systemic view
B. A new approach to the domestic market
C. Leaping to the new technologies
D. New strategies, new instruments


Interest in technical change has grown explosively in the last decade. Industrial policy, both in developed and developing countries, increasingly includes an explicit technology component. For this reason technological forecasts are becoming a prerequisite for planning. Two questions then arise: How reliable are technological forecasts? How useful are they as a guide for development strategies?

Past experience is highly uneven. In general there would seem to be a gap between the capacity for extrapolating trends in technology itself and that for predicting rates of diffusion in the productive sphere. This gap is wider the newer the technology and becomes narrower as the diffusion process develops, when related social and economic factors have become manifest revealing the selection criteria.

In fact, the world of the technically feasible is far greater than that of the economically profitable and that of the socially acceptable. And the two latter sets do not coincide either. This could mean that pure technological forecasting would be of limited use as a guide for development policy. A fuller exploration is required in order to identify the economic and social forces that drive and influence the course of technical change, as well as the forms in which technology influences the economy and society. This paper is an attempt in that direction.

The first part presents a set of categories with which to approach the analysis of technical change. In the second part, a hypothesis is presented about the constitution and diffusion of successive "techno-economic paradigms". The crystallization of each paradigm would produce a radical shift in the course of evolution of the technologies of a given period, resulting in profound structural change in the economic sphere. The third part examines the way in which such a process of structural change would demand equally profound transformations in the socio-institutional sphere.

Following this general model of analysis, it is suggested that we are at present in a period of global technological transition, which offers new opportunities for outlining development strategies. Profiting from these new possibilities would require understanding the defining features of the new techno-economic paradigm, which, in the present case would be the system of technologies based upon microelectronics. Part four, then, examines some of these features, pointing to the specific ways in which they influence the direction of technological evolution in products, production processes and in the forms of organization of the firm. Part five explores the possible impact of the new prevailing technological model upon other new technologies, specifically: new energy sources, new materials and biotechnology. The final section is a discussion of some of the implications of the technological transition for development strategies.



Published 2002

'...the book fills an important gap in the literature on business cycles and innovations. I most strongly commend it to all those attempting to understand the past and future evolution of technology and the economy.'

Christopher Freeman, Emeritus Professor, SPRU,
University of Sussex, UK

'...Carlota Perez shows us that historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity, and that economies react to them in predictable phases. Her argument provides much needed perspective not just on history, but on our own times. And especially on our own information revolution.'

W. Brian Arthur, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico

‘For contents page, selected extracts and further details, click here’.

Technological Revolutions Financial bubbles Installation Period Frenzy Deployment Period Golden Ages Dual strategy Techno‑economic paradigms Neo‑Schumpeterian Respecialization Synergy Turning Point Future markets Knowledge society Green growth Maturity Full global development Globalization Sustainability Socio‑economic development Paradigm shifts Irruption Market hyper‑segmentation