Technological convergence and the absorptive capacity of standardisation
In this paper a method of identifying trends in technological convergence on the level of technical fields is proposed. Defining convergence as an inherently stable process of structuring inter-technological patterns over time, German patent data are used to project them onto the structure of the output of standards via a concordance list of International Patent Classifications (IPC) symbols and International Classification of Standards (ICS) classes. Using a set of criteria for a reliable measurement of technological convergence, a set of methods, such as explorative identification of agglomerations of technical fields, the analyses of the breadth of technical fields to differentiate between focused and diffused convergence trends and in-depth analysis using a revised version of the Cross-Impact Assessment method, are devised to measure the level and trend of technological convergence. The structures of convergence in technological development and standardisation are in general moderately positively correlated, but that there are significant differences on how these converging trends are covered in the stock of active standards at the level of technical fields.