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Challenges for technology diffusion policy to achieve socio-economic goals

: Wydra, Sven


Technology in society 41 (2015), S. 76-90
ISSN: 0160-791X
Fraunhofer ISI ()
socio-economic goals; technology diffusion; policy design; biobased products; health technologies

The aim of this contribution is to analyze the challenges for technology diffusion policies to achieve expected socio-economic goals and to deduce conclusions for an adequate policy design. Based on hypotheses from theoretical contributions, we review two rather distinct technology fields. One is biobased products, the other health technologies with bioethanol and magnetic resonance imaging respectively as case studies in order to derive rather general insights regarding those policies. The case studies highlight the difficulties in achieving the aimed societal goals by promoting technology diffusion. The dominant innovation design (e.g. techniques or resources used) which diffuses or its application fields (e.g. indication, patient characteristics) differ from those assumed in impact assessments and side-effects which occur in other markets. The direct linkage of policy measures to societal criteria may avoid some of those undesired developments but may have side effects of their own, such as trade distortions or shifting the environmental burden to other activities. However, there is considerable scope for improvement in policy design compared to the status-quo. Overall, a more balanced policy mix regarding various socio-economic goals is vital and unintended side effects have to be considered more in decision making.