CURRENT INNOVATION CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
19 July 2017
The government has recently come up with designs to modernize the ever-reliable Jeepney, but it looked liked a truck or a mini-bus and if environmental advocates would be asked, they would surely go directly towards converting all these jeepneys into electric versions of itself. To resolve how fast we should move towards totally overhauling our existing jeepneys into something that will address our needs, including the reduction of polluting and global-warming-inducing carbon dioxide emissions, perhaps what is needed is for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Science and Technology, as well as the Climate Change Commission, to examine first the technological innovation system underlying our existing jeepneys and from that analysis, identify ways how our jeepney fleet may be modernized, examining what may be needed for electricity-driven jeeps to flourish in our streets.
This idea of looking at a technological innovation system or TIS in the academic literature, is a way of looking at the socio-technical system underlying the development, diffusion and use of a particular technology. It does not look only at the specifics of the technology but also the bigger social context on which the technology is used. Understanding a technological innovation system behind a particular product or technology would enable a clearer idea of what policies need to be formulated for the replacement technology to take over an existing technology.
Bergek, et.al. (2008) says that to identify the central policy issues in a specific innovation system, there is a need to supplement a structural focus with a process focus. These processes or “functions” will have a direct and immediate impact on the development, diffusion and use of the new technologies. It is in these processes where policymakers need to intervene, not necessarily the set-up of the structural components (actors, networks, institutions). This allows the policy maker to separate structure from content and to formulate both policy goals and policy problems in functional terms.
As laid out by the mentioned academics, the following are the steps which may be undertaken to analyze the TIS involving our jeepney so that later policy interventions may be pinpointed as necessary to improve or modernize the jeepney. Of course, the government may have already done sufficient studies to decide on the modern design of the jeepney that was recently unveiled, but this process of analysis laid out here, which needs more work and data eventually, if picked up by these agencies, could help in further identifying what policies are needed to sustain the necessary transition to the modern technologies that will run our jeepneys.
Step 1 : Defining the TIS in focus
This involves looking at either the knowledge field or the product, its breadth and depth and its spatial dimension.
For the jeepney, we can focus on the product if we wish to preserve the jeepney as it is or in the alternative, we can look at the underlying technology running the jeepney, which is the engine running the contraption, which is the internal combustion engine which may be gasoline or diesel-fed. As for the breadth and depth and spatial dimension of the TIS, we can focus on the jeepneys plying all the roads in the Philippines, which may vary from the traffic-heavy EDSA to the mountainous roads in the Cordillera or even here in the hinterlands of Sarangani province.
Step 2 : Identifying the structural components of the TIS
This involves looking at the actors, the networks and the institutions that sustain the jeepney as a mainstay in Philippine roads. The actors here can either be the drivers and/or the operators who operate and manage the jeepneys. The networks may either be the linkages between the people in the permitting system in the LTFRB or the suppliers and gasoline networks or the various socio-political networks, like the jeepney associations allied with existing political formations in the country, that promote the interests of jeepney drivers and/or operators.
What is the point of all these analyses? This is to lay the basis for a further scrutiny of the various processes on which these various actors, networks and institutions interact with each other and enable us to understand the various processes or functions in which they relate to specific goals relevant to the development of the technology. That is the purpose of the next step.
Step 3 : Mapping the functional patterns of the TIS
a) Knowledge development and diffusion
This looks at the knowledge base for the jeepney technology , how it has changed over time and how such knowledge is diffused, or spread across various users and makers of the jeepney; different kinds of knowledge may be distinguished, be it scientific, technological, production, market, logistics or design knowledge. Is there still knowledge about the jeepney that we need to know; or suppose we want to shift to electric jeepneys, what are the things we need to do to hasten the diffusion of the technology – would courses in TESDA have to include lessons in electric propulsion systems and the like, how easily can it be learned? These, among other things related to the knowledge base on the underlying technology for the jeepney, is what we are after here.
b) Influence on the direction of search
This refers to the set of incentives or impediments that affect the entry of businesses in the particular field of technology. So looking at existing jeepney techhologies and the supposed shift to electric jeepneys, what tax breaks are there that are available so that investors will go into the production of electric jeepneys?
c) Entrepreneurial experimentation
This refers to the efforts by entrepreneurs to minimize the uncertainties in the technology o that their businesses may thrive. A TIS without vibrant experimentation will stagnate and will not evolve. The analysis here may involve looking at
• Number of entrants, including diversifying established firms
• Number of different types of applications
• The breadth of technologies used and the character of the complementary technologies employed
d) Market formation
There are three markets to look into here, a very early “nursing market”, where the size of the market is very limited but this may give way to a “bridging market” which allows for volumes to increase and for an enlargement of the TIS in terms of number of actors. Finally, in a successful TIS, mass markets may evolve, often several decades after the formation of the initial market.
This involves a matter of social acceptance and compliance with relevant institutions. The new technology and its proponents need to be considered appropriate and desirable by relevant actors in order for resources to be mobilized, for demand to form and for actors in the new TIS to acquire political strength.
f) Resource mobilization
This involves looking at the extent to which the TIS is able to mobilize competence/human capital through education in scientific and technological fields as well as in entrepreneurship, management and finance, financial capital and complementary assets such as complementary products, services , network infrastructure, etc.
g) Development of positive externalities
This refers to the entry of new firms which may resolve at least some of the initial uncertainties with respect to technologies and markets, thereby strengthening the functions influence on the direction of the search and market formation. Their entry may also legitimize the new TIS or strengthen the political power of advocacy coalitions that, in turn, enhance the opportunities for a successful legitimation process.
Step 4 : Assessing the functionalities of the TIS and setting process goals
When looking at the results from the various processes in step 3, a key question to ask is : how well is the system functioning, which involves what is the phase of the development of the technology, is the technology on the upswing or is it maturing; what is the goal that one seeks to achieve if we want the technology to grow and move up to the next level of adoption or market dominance? This goal must be identified as it is crucial to the application of the next step.
Step 5 : Identifying inducement and blocking mechanisms
To achieve the identified process goals, what are the various mechanisms in our functional analysis that promote the achievement of these goals; these are our inducement mechanisms; what about those factors that impede our progress towards these process goals, these are our blocking mechanisms.
As an example, an inducement mechanism that may hasten the shift to electric vehicles may be this pending comprehensive tax reform bill undergoing discussion in the Senate that increases the prices of diesel, thus making it uneconomic in the long-run to use engines dependent on. But the blocking mechanism is that there is no clear path towards the mass adoption of electric jeepneys, is it the cost that must be addressed or how about the skeptical attitude of people towards these new vehicles, especially when these electric jeeps are deployed in mountainous areas, or is that ever possible? These are the things that must be identified in this part of the analysis.
Step 6 : Specify key policy issues
In this last step, the ways how these inducement mechanisms may be enhanced or reinforced is subject of another policy intervention by government, or it may be the removal of blocking mechanisms, like, enabling the importation or technology transfer, of technologies that hasten the manufacture of electric jeepneys, for example. Of course, these examples will need to be further refined by technologists who are familiar with both the old technologies running our existing jeepneys and the new technologies on which our electric jeepneys may need so that they will spread.
This kind of analytical effort using the TIS framework towards identifying the various technologies that we need to shift to a new technology may need to be done at the national level by key agencies of government, in order to guide our efforts towards upgrading our technologies into something that will assist us attain our sustainability transition goals.
Anna Bergek, S. Jacobsson, B. Carlsson, S. Lindmark and A. Rickne, Analyzing the functional dynamics of technological innovation systems : A scheme of analysis. 2008. Research Policy, (37), 3, 407-429. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2007.12.003, accessed 22 August 2016.