Is 3D Printing a Disruptive Innovation?

My work on 3D Printing and the Hearing aid industry is now published in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change. The paper can be retrieved here. The abstract can be found below:

3D Printing technologies have received extensive attention in recent years, but empirical investigations of how this technology is used for manufacturing are still sparse. More knowledge is also needed regarding how 3D Printing affects the competitive dynamics between firms. This article explores how 3D Printing has been adopted for manufacturing and discusses under what conditions it might influence competition in different industries. Drawing upon data from the global hearing aid industry’s adoption of 3D Printing during the period 1989–2008, this paper describes some of the benefits of using the technology, while also pointing out challenges firms encounter in making this transition. The study shows that early adopters were exposed to more technological uncertainty related to choosing printers. All firms encountered operational challenges as 3D Printing required new skill sets, but the technology had little impact on the competitive dynamics of this industry. Drawing upon literature on technological discontinuities, platforms and ecosystems, the paper illustrates and explains why the technology was not disruptive and also discusses how these findings apply to other industries where 3D Printing is currently gaining momentum.

Full reference:
Sandström, C. (2015) The non-disruptive emergence of an Ecosystem for 3D Printing – Insights from the Hearing aid industry’s transition 1989-2008, Technological Forecasting & Social Change,doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2015.09.006.

De främsta innovationerna 1980-2015

Veckans affärer listar de främsta innovationerna under de senaste decennierna. Materialet tar sin utgångspunkt i min rapport, men det bör understrykas att jag inte gjort urvalet. Rapporten skrevs inte med syftet att ta reda på vilka som är de främsta innovationerna, utan för att belysa var och hur banbrytande innovationer har uppstått i Sverige historiskt. Texten kan läsas här.

The Entrepreneurial State?

I senaste numret av Ekonomisk Debatt recenserar jag Mariana Mazzucatos bok The Entrepreneurial State. Avslutningen ger en god sammanfattning:

“tonen är genomgående uppskruvad, bitvis raljant och emellanåt osaklig på ett sätt som inte anstår en forskare. När detta kombineras med en bristfällig teoretisk förståelse för innovationspolitik och en empiri som i bästa fall kan beskrivas som anekdotisk blir det svårt att ta Mariana Mazzucatos bok på allvar.”

Referens och länk nedan:
Sandström, C. (2015) Book review: The Entrepreneurial state (Anthem Press, 2013), Ekonomisk Debatt, No 3, p. 92-94, available here.

Symmetric Assumptions in the theory of disruptive innovation

In December 2014, I published a paper together with Henrik Berglund and Mats Magnusson, discussing the theoretical assumptions underpinning current theory theory on disruptive innovation. The paper can be read here, below an abstract:

The literature on disruptive innovation has convincingly explained why many established firms encounter problems under conditions of discontinuous change. Incumbents fail to invest in new technologies that are not demanded by their existing customers. This argument is grounded in resource dependency theory and the associated assumption that existing customers control a firm’s internal resource allocation processes. While the problem of disruptive innovation has been convincingly explained, there is still a need for managerial solutions. We argue that a key reason why such solutions are lacking can be found in the asymmetric assumptions made in the original theory of disruptive innovation. Specifically, we identify two related forms of asymmetry. First, the focal (incumbent) firm is treated as a collection of heterogeneous actors with different preferences, incentives and competencies, whereas firms in the surrounding environment are treated as if they contained no such heterogeneity. Second, the theory of disruptive innovation describes incumbents as controlled by their environment, but has failed to recognize that the environment can also be influenced. In this paper we argue that a more symmetric theory of disruptive innovation – i.e. one that treats all similar entities in the same way – opens up for a range of interesting managerial solutions.

Kommer digital teknik stöpa om den högre utbildningen?

Digitaliseringen leder i stort sett alltid till sjunkande priser, vertikal desintegrering (sk unbundling), tilltagande konkurrens och ofta till att offentliga monopol (spel, radio, TV, aktiehandel, telefoni) kullkastas. Varför skulle universitetssektorn på sikt utgöra ett undantag?

I tidningen Universitetsläraren argumenterar jag att den högre utbildningen kan vara på väg mot ett antal omvälvningar de kommande åren. Artikeln kan läsas här.