The interactions between emerging technologies and institutional environments in developing countries: The case of GM maize in Argentina
Cozzens, Susan E.
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This work is aimed at advancing the understanding of the interactions and dynamics between emerging technologies, and the institutional environments in national settings. Interactions and coevolution of technologies and institutions are fundamental drivers of social change (Nelson 1994a), and this is particularly the triggering question for this analysis. How and up to what extent have the institutional environments co-evolved with the emergence of agricultural genetic engineering within specific national settings? What types of interacting paths have they shaped, what actors have been involved and in what roles, and what have been the outcomes of these processes in terms of production, utilization, appropriation and commercialization of the technology? Furthermore it aims at tracing and tracking back and forth the connections and disconnections between institutional and technological change, and ultimately identifying and analyzing the outcomes of these processes and the role of policy in terms of who gets what, when and how3. These interactions are analyzed in the context of agricultural genetic engineering in the second country with GM planted area, with a tradition of crises and where policy environments “functionality and responsiveness are often at odds with innovation and change, and policy anticipation might be weak. This paper reviews this relationship in the context of an emerging technology such as agricultural GE in Argentina. At the institutional end, it traces the “critical junctures” as indicators of institutional innovation, and feedback effects, as indicators of their reproduction (Thelen 2003). The focus on the institutional environment refers to policy objectives, policy instruments and agendas, the timing of the interventions, and the regulatory framework. At the technological end, it traces the specific context of introduction of the technology, its production and utilization, the related set of capabilities developed, and the actors involved. The links and gaps between these two are analyzed, connecting the dots, tracing the trajectories and signaling the missing links, problems and bottlenecks over time. At the broader level, this analysis intends to contribute with the discussion on the systemic character of innovations, focusing on the interaction mechanisms between technologies and institutions and a more precise understanding of the structure of these interactions, and the causal mechanisms supporting differential patterns of change. This study fundamentally draws on work conducted in the context of the RESULTAR4 research project, on the distributional consequences of emerging technologies. In depth interviews were conducted in Argentina in November 2007, and were complemented with government reports, bills and regulatory documents, and academic articles, among others.
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