This international anthology presents case studies of historical and contemporary transformations of large technical systems such as railways, telecommunications, electricity, and automobiles. The authors, working at the forefront of historical and social science research on the dynamics of large technical systems, analyze how and why these systems undergo change. Because of their important roles in contemporary society, large technical systems such as railways, airlines, road systems, telecommunications, and electric power network share drawing considerable academic and political interest. In this collaborative study on processes of change in large technical systems, the contributing authors present historical and current case studies of transformation within these systems. Working at the forefront of historical and social science research on the dynamics of large technical systems, the authors specifically analyze how and why the systems undergo change. In some cases, new technologies are solving old problems and presenting opportunities for system growth. In other areas, new regulatory approaches have brought competition and deregulation, often posing challenges to system builders. The authors also show how the breakup of national boundaries and new corporate strategies for global management of technology are transforming systems in ways that will have significant impacts on all consumers
Table of Contents
Introduction - the systems approach to understanding technological change, Jane Ummerton. Part 1 Combining old and new technologies to reshape systems: recombining large technical systems - the case of European organ transplantation, Ingo Braun and Bernward Joerges; changing embedded systems - the economics and politics of innovation in American railroad signalling, 1876-1914, Steven W. Usselman; integrating supple technologies into utility power systems - possibilities for reconfiguration, Alexandra Suchard; the normal accident of July 1914, Arden Bucholz. Part 2 Crossing borders reconfigures systems: transformation through integration - the unification of German telecommunications, Tobias Robischon; multinationals in transition - global technical integration and the role of corporate telecommunication networks, Volker Schneider; the Australian electric power industry and the politics of radical reconfiguration, Stephen M. Salsbury; economics of changing grid systems - competition in the electricity supply industry, Olivier Coutard. Part 3 Confronting incompatibilities between changing systems and their cultures: the Internet challenge - conflict and compromise in computer networking, Jane Abbate; broken plowshare - system failure and the nuclear power industry, Gene I. Rochlin. Part 4 Controlling the car - will the system change?: car traffic at the crossroads - new technologies for cars, traffic systems and their interaction, Reiner Grundmann; rethinking road traffic as social interaction, Oskar Juhlin. Part 5 The logic of systemic technology: four notes on systemic technology, Svante Beckman. Part 6 Concluding comments: conclusion, Jane Summerton.
Jane Summerton (Author)