Dilemmas in the Analysis of Technological Change. A Cognitive Approach to Understand Innovation and Change in the Water Sector

  • Dino Borri Department of Civil, Environmental, Territorial Engineering and Chemistry, Technical University of Bari
  • Laura Grassini Department of Civil, Environmental, Territorial Engineering and Chemistry, Technical University of Bari
Keywords: Technological Evolution, Innovation Studies, Cognitive Approach, Technological Memory, Water


In this paper we argue for the need to apply a cognitive approach to understand deep dynamics and determinants of technological evolutions. After examining main contributions from innovation studies to the conceptualization of innovation and change in complex socio-technical environments, we highlight the contribution coming from the application of the cognitive approach to evolutionary studies on technologies and we introduce the concept of technological memory as an interpretative tool to understand those changes. We discuss our hypothesis with reference to several observations carried out in different local contexts – Mexico, India and Italy – in relation to technological change in the water sector. In those cases deliberate attempts to substitute traditional technologies with modern ones led to interesting trajectories of change ranging from the collapse of old technologies to the development of multifaceted hybridization patterns.


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Author Biographies

Dino Borri, Department of Civil, Environmental, Territorial Engineering and Chemistry, Technical University of Bari

Professor of Territorial Engineering at the technical University of Bari. He has carried out research in many planning fields, from planning theories to regional economics and evaluation methods, from environmental engineering to information technology and intelligent agents for planning. He is also head of the Bari Unit of the EUNITE network of excellence on Fuzzy Intelligent Agents. He has coordinated several EU funded research projects dealing with decision making systems for water management and sustainable use of natural resources.

Laura Grassini, Department of Civil, Environmental, Territorial Engineering and Chemistry, Technical University of Bari

Adjunct Professor in Territorial and Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Bari. She holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” (2003. She has been working as researcher and project manager in several EU funded research projects, including the EU-FP6 project ANTINOMOS “A knowledge network for solving real life problems in developing countries”. Her main areas of research activities are environmental technologies and policies, technological change and strategic planning. 


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How to Cite
Borri, D., & Grassini, L. (2014). Dilemmas in the Analysis of Technological Change. A Cognitive Approach to Understand Innovation and Change in the Water Sector. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment. https://doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/2561