, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 779-810

What do we know about innovation in nanotechnology? Some propositions about an emerging field between hype and path-dependency

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Abstract

This contribution formulates a number of propositions about the emergence of novel nanoscience and nanotechnology (N&N). Seeking to complement recent work that aims to define a research agenda and draws on general insights from the innovation literature, this paper aims to synthesize knowledge from innovation-related studies of the N&N field. More specifically, it is suggested that N&N is often misconstrued as either a field of technology or an area of (broadly) converging technologies while evidence to date suggests rather that N&N be considered a set of inter-related and overlapping about not necessarily merging technologies. The role of instrumentation in connecting the various N&N fields is underlined. Finally, the question is raised whether change in N&N tends to be incremental rather than discontinuous, being the result of technological path-dependencies and lock-ins in industry-typical search regimes that are only slowly giving way to more boundary-crossing activities.