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Seeking coherence between barriers to manufacturing technology adoption and innovation policy

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Manufacturing-enabling technologies (MET) play a key role in increasing the reliability of manufacturing processes, and help accelerate new product development and testing. Manufacturing firms are, however, often reluctant to develop MET themselves, as these may not be part of their core competencies nor easily appropriable. Government support can play a vital role in overcoming these barriers for firms. Ideally, this support should be tailored to the barriers associated with a specific technology. Existing studies do not provide insight into how these barriers differ across types of MET. Based on 26 interviews and approximately a hundred sources of archival data, we study the adoption of four types of MET for advanced composite materials in the aviation industry. We analyze what technology-level and market factors affect the adoption of each type of MET, and whether government programs have responded to industry’s needs. We find significant heterogeneity in barriers to the adoption of different METs, and that government programs designed to foster manufacturing innovation do not readily adapt to these variations. In particular, they often do not account for factors such as MET technological interdependence, nature of learning (scientific versus trial-and-error), and the heterogeneity of the technology development community. We provide practitioners with guidelines on how to tailor manufacturing innovation programs to accelerate the development and adoption of different types of MET.



4014 Manufacturing Engineering, 40 Engineering, 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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International Journal of Production Economics

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Elsevier BV
Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GAT3558)