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Designing generic technologies in Energy Research: learning from two CEA technologies for double unknown management

Abstract : The aim of this paper is to shed light on an innovative strategy for the design of generic technologies (GTs). Research on radical innovation management, while recognizing the success of GTs, generally describes their design according to evolutionary strategies featuring multiple and uncertain trials, which would finally result in the discovery of common features between multiple applications. Building on a case study conducted on two technological development programs at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), we exhibit an anomaly to this rarely discussed idea: we describe an alternative strategy that consists in intentionally designing common features that bridge the gap between a priori heterogeneous applications and a priori heterogeneous technologies. This anomaly brings three main results: 1) The usual trial-and-learning strategy is not necessarily the only strategy to design a GT; 2) beyond technological breakthrough, the value of GTs also relies on the capacity to reuse and connect existing technologies; 3) the design of GT might require sophisticated organizational patterns to be able to involve multiple technology suppliers and applications' providers.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 18, 2014 - 4:02:34 PM
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Sophie Hooge, Olga Kokshagina, Pascal Le Masson, Kevin Levillain, Benoit Weil, et al.. Designing generic technologies in Energy Research: learning from two CEA technologies for double unknown management. European Academy of Management - EURAM 2014, Jun 2014, Valencia, Spain. pp.33. ⟨hal-00987214⟩

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