Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2013/6: Commercializing clean technology innovations – the emergence of new business in an agency-structure perspective

Sofia Avdeitchikova () and Lars Coenen
Additional contact information
Sofia Avdeitchikova: CIRCLE, Lund University; Growth Analysis (Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis), Postal: CIRCLE, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden
Lars Coenen: CIRCLE, Lund University; Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, Norway, Postal: CIRCLE, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Clean technology is seen as indispensable to solve or at least abate an environmental/energy crisis without abandoning possibilities for progress and economic growth. This, however, does not imply that sustainable development can be readily achieved through a ‘technical fix’. Innovation and commercial introduction of new technology are inherently uncertain processes that fail more often than that they succeed. Studies on the commercialization of new technology in entrepreneurship literature have often failed to explain why some new technologies reach markets while others don’t, as well as why some technological solutions ultimately become industry standards while others quickly disappear from the market. Technology commercialization models are often linear, based on a technology-push logic and focus rather exclusively on micro-level issues such as characteristics of technology and product, entrepreneurial experience and access to resources. This chapter takes stock with a linear perspective to cleantech commercialization processes and, instead, suggests an alternative approach to analyze the entrepreneurial process of commercializing cleantech. In particular, this approach underlines the duality concerning structure and agency that entrepreneurs tend to encounter in the commercialization of cleantech. The objective of this chapter is to identify how agency and structure interplay in the process of commercializing cleantech. To do so, the chapter compares two literatures that each depart from different starting points. Whereas the institutional entrepreneurship literature often departs from the micro-level of individual or organizational action, the socio-technical transitions literature departs from a systems perspective on technological change. The contribution of the chapter lies in making explicit the agency-structure discussion in the different approaches in order to add to our understanding of cleantech as an emergent technological field and the role of entrepreneurs and/or entrepreneurship in shaping this field. By reviewing the recent knowledge development in the area, we also identify two possible ways how these literature streams can enrich each other; namely by incorporating the transition process in institutional entrepreneurship and by incorporating entrepreneurial strategies in socio-technical transitions.

Keywords: cleantech; technology entrepreneurship; sustainability transitions; institutional entrepreneurship

JEL-codes: O31; Q56

28 pages, February 2, 2013

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