Technological Diffusion and Substitution

  • Louis A. Girifalco


A new technological innovation takes time to spread to its potential users. It took twenty years for the basic oxygen steelmaking process to get to the point where it accounted for 90 percent of steel production in the United States. The earlier open hearth process did not reach the 90 percent point until forty-three years after its first introduction and synthetic rubber took nearly sixty years. While many technologies take decades to achieve widespread use, there are others that penetrate the market with astonishing rapidity. In 1950, less than 10 percent of the electrically wired households in the United States had television; by 1960, this number had increased to over 90 percent. The time for synthetic detergents to go from a substitution level (for soap in clothes for laundering) of 10 percent to 90 percent was less than nine years. A major task of technological dynamics is to describe the rate of the spread of new technologies and to determine the reasons for the rates that are observed.


Diesel Locomotive Electric Steel Technological Diffusion Basic Oxygen Radio Broadcasting 
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Copyright information

© Van Nostrand Reinhold 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis A. Girifalco
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of PennsylvaniaUSA

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