Thomas Grammig

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Embeddedness of Technology

The instrumental core of a technology carries a form of logic shaped by the persons, organizations and society creating it.  Weber´s sociology saw 'Zweckrationalität', led Thomas Kuhn to then discover paradigms in sciences and today, such accounts trace 'epistemic communities'.  Bruno Latour shows that embeddedness is specific on 11 different layers of 'sociotechnical aggregation'.

Moving technical knowledge between contexts changes this embeddedness.  At Hofstede´s Culture´s Consequences book launch conference I juxtaposed cases of US energy and Japanese automobile technology in Mexico and French manufacturing moved to Chad.  Types of knowledge (components of technology) have more salient national differences rather than an entire technology and can better be adapted.  Hofstede´s Power Distance and Individualism variables solely focus psychological traits and cannot describe tacit knowledge barriers. 

Cultural differences and types of technical knowledge

You might test whether components of technology allow project participants to discuss embeddedness as I suggest in a paper in French (same 3 cases as above) for an innovation workshop.

Processus Socio-culturels et Coopération Technologique - french

Professional training is a major transmitter/creator of embeddedness, the longer a profession has an institutional base.  This embeddedness is well visible whenever people with different professional socialisations work together, such was the case in the following World Bank-funded informal sector programme in Chad.

Menuiserie métallique au Tchad - french

My preferred tasks:


Latour B, 1999, Pandora’s Hope, Harvard UP.
Penna CCR, Geels FW, 2012, "Multi-dimensional struggles in the greening of industry: A dialectic issue lifecycle
           model and a case study", Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79: 999-1020.