Incremental innovations, information contagion, and path dependence: the case of drinking water purification technologies in urban India
Nazia Talat & Saradindu Bhaduri
Industrial and Corporate Change, 2017, DOI: 10.1093/icc/dtx010
Abstract: Recent scholarship on technological path dependence has questioned the credibility of many previous studies for basing their analyses on cases settled in the past. Such cases often do not provide adequate insights into the historical contingencies, nature of incremental innovations, and the type of feedback mechanisms between consumers and producers of technologies. In addition, most of the cases dealing with path dependence focus on firms as users of technology, and miss out on the influence the consumers may have in shaping path dependence. We take the case of water purification technologies in India, where the technologies are still evolving, and analyze the path dependence implications of their evolution by taking the case of urban households with piped water supply. Using patent data, scientific studies, as well as interviews with firms and individuals, we analyze how through various incremental innovations and information contagion, reverse osmosis technologies demonstrate the features of path dependence, leading, possibly, to lock-in.