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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Mapping the Dynamics of Emerging Technologies

This proposal aims to deepen our understanding of how new technologies emerge. Technologies are developed in distributed epistemic networks that align and misalign to varying degrees. In the case of emergent fields, desirable technological developments are often hindered as a result of this lack of alignment. Hence there is a role for public policy for supporting the coordination of the networks. This project aims to fill this evidence gap and map how these networks develop, align and misalign, to understand:

  1. How do epistemic communities come into being?
  2. What are the mechanisms underlying the process of community integration?
  3. How can the development of communities be effectively managed and influenced by public policy?

To answer these questions, the research will combine quantitative methods for analysing social and cognitive networks using publication data, with novel mixed qualitative-quantitative approaches to capture institutional developments and the visions, values and shared expectations of the researchers. These techniques will allow us to better understand the co-evolution of knowledge and communities and how they are influenced by institutions and visions for a total of six case studies of emerging technological fields with potential widespread societal applications, such as 'nanocrystals for photovoltaics', 'lab-on-a-chip for diagnostics' or 'asynchronous logic in chip design'.