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