The Electronic Book as a Disruptive Innovation in the Print on Paper Regime: Mapping the Emergent Sociotechnical Network
A sociotechnical system can be perceived as the linkages between the elements necessary to fulfil a societal function . The printed-paper-text is conceived as one such system the primary function of which is the dissemination of textual information. It involves actors across the spectrum of the printed paper supply chain, in both spheres of supply and demand, involved in activities as diverse as forestry, paper production, printing, publishing, distribution and waste paper recovery. These activities are co-ordinated by rules constituting the print on paper regime. Sociotechnical regimes are characterised by relevant stability allowing only for incremental change by the incumbent actors. Radical innovation emerges in niches which are insulated spaces where an emerging technology can be nurtured protected by competition in the regime . There is a variety of alternative pathways for the niche technologies to subsequently interact with the incumbent regime. The electronic book is conceived as a niche with regard to the printed paper text as it has the potential to effect radical change on the ways textual information is created, distributed and consumed. Niches can be studied as emergent innovation networks. In describing the electronic book niche, we combine innovation network theories with social network analysis (SNA) methods. Through research into academic and industry sources we identify specific electronic book technologies, products and organisations/firms active in particular areas of the e-book industry (e.g. display technology, software, digital rights management). Information on the interaction between organisation and between organisations and technologies is also collected. With the help of SNA mapping software the resulting sociotechnical network can be visually represented and analysed. On this basis, implications on the patterns of innovative activity can be noted.
Keywords: Electronic Book, Sociotechnical Transition, Network Analysis
Doctoral Researcher, BRESE
Prof Fred Steward