‘Technological innovations have occurred throughout history and rapidly increased over the modern age. New technologies are developed and co-exist with the old before supplanting them. Transport offers several examples; from sailing to steam ships to automobiles replacing horse-based transportation. Technological transitions (TT) describe how these technological innovations occur and are incorporated into society. Alongside the technological developments TT considers wider societal changes such as “user practices, regulation, industrial networks (supply, production, distribution), infrastructure, and symbolic meaning or culture”. For a technology to have use, it must be linked to social structures human agency and organizations to fulfill a specific need. Hughes refers to the ‘seamless web’ where physical artifacts, organisations, scientific communities, and social practices combine. A technological system includes technical and non-technical aspects, and it a major shift in the socio-technical configurations (involving at least one new technology) is when a technological transition occurs.
Work on technological transitions draws on a number of fields including history of science, technology studies, and evolutionary economics. The focus of evolutionary economics is on economic change, but as a driver of this technological change has been considered in the literature. Joseph Schumpeter, in his classic Theory of Economic Development placed the emphasis on non-economic forces as the driver for growth. The human actor, the entrepreneur is seen as the cause of economic development which occurs as a cyclical process. Schumpeter proposed that radical innovations were the catalyst for Kondratiev cycles.