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Catteni Descriptive Essay

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Essays on technological evolution by Gino Cattani

Essays on technological evolution

A core strategy question is how established firms can sustain their competitive advantage in the face of technological change. While strategy research typically traces differences in the ability to innovate to a priori heterogeneity in initial conditions, whether such differences result from strategic foresight or historical accidents is unclear. The dissertation seeks to contribute to this debate by examining whether the capabilities used to develop a new technology are created in anticipation of this technology or result from capabilities developed in the past for other uses. We first investigate the process leading to the emergence of a new technology by conducting a longitudinal case study of Corning's pioneering work in fiber optics. The study shows how the exposure to divergent selection forces is an important aspect of the search for new technologies. Since accurate foresight is rare, market feedback can help unveil new investment opportunities and even redirect a firm's R&D. The study also suggests that the experience accumulated in one domain often represents pre-adaptation in other domains: pre-existing skills and knowledge can over time become useful for other unanticipated applications. We then investigate the performance implications of technological pre-adaptation in a large sample study on the evolution of fiber optics technology over the period 1970–1995. The aim is to find out which firms contributed the most to the emergence of this technology and whether firms that leverage their prior experience display any selective advantage as compared to firms that either do not have a similar base of experience or fail to take advantage of it. Far from implying a deterministic view of innovation and firm performance, and thus discarding any meaningful role for strategy, pre-adaptation still allows for variation in the observed behavior of ‘pre-adapted’ firms. To study the dynamic interplay between pre-adaptation, foresight and market feedback, we develop a simulation model based on fractal geometry. The simulation allows studying in a more controlled setting the relative importance between oriented search (i.e. search guided by foresight, heuristics or intention) and market feedback guided search in the development of new technologies or practices. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management

Recommended Citation

Gino Cattani, "Essays on technological evolution" (January 1, 2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3137988.

Other articles

Cité A Docks Student Housing by Cattani Architects

Cattani Architects have designed the recently completed Cité A Docks student housing project, located in Le Havre, France.

The housing consists of 100 apartments made out of old shipping containers.

Description from the architects:

The new town is the result of the transformation of old containers in modular housing units equipped with every comfort. Mounted on a metal grid, the containers have given shape to a four-story building that houses 100 apartments of 24 square meters each.

The architect Cattani said the thoughts that accompanied her work. “How do I prevent students, prospective tenants, they feel put in the box? Compelling needs have arisen. Necessary to conceive of a lightweight, transparent, and certainly not solid. Hence the idea of independent living, to avoid the stacking effect.”

The solution was found in a metal frame that acts as a structural support to the old container, while allowing to stagger the units, and create new space for walkways, patios and balconies. “The metal structure – Cattani says – it allows a better identification of the different rooms, and enhances them through the external extensions that become terraces and balconies. The sequences of the transverse corridors giving access to the apartments on the façade create a succession of full and empty spaces that gives the structure a more visual transparency.”

The building designed by the metal structure is spread over four floors, which are distributed on the 100 studios. The first level was raised from the ground. In this way, the units here guests can enjoy the same privacy afforded to units on the upper floors. All the apartments overlook a garden inside and are equipped on both ends of the glass walls that allow natural lighting of spaces.

To ensure maximum heat and sound insulation, the walls of the container adjacent to the outside and those that divide the different units have been coated with fire walls in reinforced concrete 40cm wide, and come within layers of rubber to dampen vibrations.

The external facade is designed by the combination of the old “boxes” that has kept the undulating, repainted in metallic gray. Inside, the designers chose white walls and wooden furniture. Each studio has a bathroom, kitchen and free Wifi.