August 2006
Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings;2006, pJ1
Conference Proceeding
This paper presents the results of a longitudinal study of the evolution of two key Internet technologies: the web browser and the search engine. Using our Spiral Network model, we were able to explicate the mechanisms driving the processes of innovation across these two Internet technologies. We show that technological innovations are created through the mechanisms of translation and inscription where actors create actor-networks by translating: a) actors who are directly or indirectly vested in the technology, b) users, c) technologies, d) regulations and state regimes, and e) practices in the market. We also find that these external actions are tightly linked to an internal cognitive shift that originates from frame-breaking beliefs held by the actors. These beliefs inscribed onto technological artifacts further reinforce the innovation efforts. Furthermore, we found that these actions provide an initial momentum that is sustained through the mechanism of framing. Together these forces “spiral” towards path lock-in stage where a level of “black-box” is attained. Un-blackboxing occurs as other actors continue to “mindfully” deviate within the dominant actor-networks but we show that resistance that arises from many trials-of-strength is a key trigger that allows for successful new paths to be created.


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