This paper proposes a social system framework at the interorganizational community level to examine how an industrial infrastructure emerges to facilitate and inhibit technological innovation. This infrastructure includes institutional arrangements, resource endowments, and proprietary activities that are necessary to develop and transform basic scientific knowledge into commercially viable products or services. We argue that this community infrastructure emerges through the accretion of numerous institutional, resource, and proprietary events which co-produce each other through the actions of public and private sector actors over an extended period of time. The practical implications of this perspective emphasize that innovation managers must not only be concerned with micro developments of a proprietary technical device or product within their organization, but also with the creation of a macro industrial system, which embodies the social, economic, and political infrastructure that any technological community needs to sustain its members.
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We gratefully appreciate useful suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper from Philip Anderson, Joseph Galaskiewicz, Elaine Romanelli, and two anonymous JET-Mreviewers. Support for this research has been provided (in part) by a grant to the Strategic Management Research Center at the University of Minnesota from the Program on Organization Effectiveness, Office of Naval Research, under contract No. N00014-84-K-0016.
- Industrial infrastructure
- Industry evolution
- Innovation process
- Technological innovation