The Auto-ID Trajectory - Abstract

Traditionally the approach used to analyse technological innovation focused on the application of the techno-economic paradigm with the production function as its foundation. This thesis explores the rise of the evolutionary paradigm as a more suitable conceptual approach to investigating complex innovations like automatic identification (auto-ID) devices. Collecting and analysing data for five auto-ID case studies, (bar codes, magnetic-stripe cards, smart cards, biometrics and RF/ID transponders), it became evident that a process of migration, integration and convergence is happening within the auto-ID technology system (TS). The evolution of auto-ID is characterised by a new cluster of innovations, primarily emerging through the recombination of existing knowledge. Using the systems of innovation (SI) framework this study explores the dynamics of auto-ID innovation, including organisational, institutional, economic, regulatory, social and technical dimensions. The results indicate that for a given auto-ID innovation to be successful there must be interaction between the various stakeholders within each dimension. The findings also suggest, that the popular idea that several technologies are superseded by one dominant technology in a given selection environment, does not hold true in the auto-ID industry. 

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The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Two Literature Review

The primary purpose of the literature review is to establish what relevant research has already been conducted in the field of auto-ID innovation. It is through this review of the broader research topic that a specific proposal can be accurately formulated. First, a critical response to the literature on technological innovation is required. Second, a thorough evaluation of research on auto-ID technologies is necessary. Third, an attempt to locate works that deal with both innovation and auto-ID will be made. If these works are scant, then the question of whether this warrants a sufficient gap for further research will be posed. Can this thesis act to fill the void in the literature by offering a first attempt at understanding the innovation of technologies in the auto-ID industry?

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The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Five The Development of Auto-ID Technologies

In this chapter the story behind the development of individual auto-ID technology will be explored. First to highlight the importance of incremental innovation within auto-ID; second to show the growth of the auto-ID selection environment as being more than just bar code and magnetic-stripe technology; third to point to the notion of technological trajectory as applied to auto-ID; fourth to highlight the occurrence of creative symbiosis taking place between various auto-ID devices; and fifth to establish a setting in which results in the forthcoming chapters can be interpreted. The high-level drivers that led to each invention will also be presented here as a way to understand innovation in the auto-ID industry.

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The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Seven: Ten Cases in the Selection and Application of Auto-ID

The overall purpose of this chapter is to present the auto-ID selection environment by exploring ten embedded case studies. The cases will act to illustrate the pervasiveness of each auto-ID technology within vertical sectors which are synonymous with the technology’s take up. The focus will now shift from the technology provider as the central actor to innovation (as was highlighted in ch. 6) to the service provider stakeholder who adopts a particular technology on behalf of its members and end users. It will be shown that new commercial applications do act to drive incremental innovations which shape a technology’s long-term trajectory. The four levels of analysis that will be conducted can be seen in exhibit 7.1 below, with three examples to help the reader understand the format of the forthcoming micro-inquiry. This chapter dedicates equal space to each case and for the first time will show that coexistence between auto-ID technologies is not only possible but happening presently, and very likely to continue into the future.

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