Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors
William B. Bonvillian and Charles Weiss
Reviews and Awards
"Bonvillian and Weiss seek to elucidate the forces of resistance in legacy sectors and offer policy prescriptions for overcoming them... the authors offer interesting anecdotes and have a good grasp of the extensive literature" -- Choice
"Bonvillian and Weiss have written an important book. Their focus is on how innovation occurs and, more often, fails to occur in legacy sectors of the economy. Of particular value is their analysis of the structural obstacles to disruptive innovation in these sectors, and how those obstacles can be overcome." -- Jeff Bingaman, former U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
"It's unfortunate that innovation policy analysis is all too often one-dimensional. Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors provides a sorely needed antidote, providing compelling analysis of how innovation actually occurs-or does not-and what governments need to do to accelerate the pace." -- Robert D. Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
"In the past few decades, our attention has mostly focused on startups. Yet most jobs are in established firms, whose share of private sector employment has actually increased during this same period. Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors is aimed at this very important, yet somewhat neglected section of our economy. The book thus fills a major gap and should be read by anyone concerned with our 'jobless innovation." -- Irving Wladawsky-Berger, former IBM Vice President for Technology Strategy and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
"Bonvillian and Weiss show again that they are master students of America's innovation system. In Technology Innovation in Legacy Sectors they not only focus on innovative approaches to developing green technologies, but suggest creative ways to introduce the new energy efficient technologies to established sectors and firms. They are blazing a pathway to a green future." -- Kent H. Hughes, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
"With this book Bonvillian and Weiss shine a vivid light on one of the most critical and least well-examined challenges of American innovation policy-how to drive innovation in the two-thirds of the American economy where innovation is frustrated not simply by the barriers faced by all innovators but by a rigid legacy 'system of systems.' It should be blindingly obvious that these systems present major barriers to the new ideas needed to achieve national aspirations in areas like energy, education, and health care.
The authors bring a unique mixture of expertise to the challenge: technical sophistication in research and innovation and a clear-headed policy perspective on what can actually be done in today's challenging political environment. They've done a great service by developing a systematic approach to the challenge of legacy systems and providing a practical array of potential remedies. If nothing else, I hope this book can launch a vigorous national debate on a set of issues that have long hidden in plain sight." -- Dr. Henry Kelly, Former President of the Federation Of American Scientists and senior White House and Energy Department official
"This remarkable book by William Bonvillian and Charles Weiss offers new insights, analysis, and solutions about one of the most important long-term challenges facing our economy: how to introduce technological innovations in legacy sectors. As Clayton Christenson has explained through his writings about why large corporations fail to create disruptive innovations, Bonvillian and Weiss now explain why nations also face a similar dilemma in legacy sectors for a variety of reasons that are different from those of corporations. This is not to say that there are no innovations in legacy sectors. In fact, such sectors follow existing techno-economic learning curves where innovations and incremental improvements in existing technologies can produce enormous economic gains.
What remains very difficult in legacy sectors, however, is to develop transformative and disruptive technologies that create entirely new learning curves to offer the possibility of cheaper and better options than existing ones in the long run and at large scale. Since most of the economic benefits from such technologies occur at large scale, it is critical that such technologies are allowed to scale in the presence of legacy technologies. Otherwise, the US faces the unfortunate reality of such technologies scaling elsewhere in the world, along with most of the accompanying economic benefits. Bonvillian and Weiss provide detailed analysis of the root the causes of this challenge, and then offer a framework for how to address it. This is enormously important because we, as a nation, ought to be hedged to receive the economic benefits of not only innovations along existing learning curves, but also those along entirely new and disruptive ones.
Otherwise, we face the real danger in the long run of such disruptions emerging from outside the US than from the inside." -- Arun Majumdar, Jay Precourt Professor and Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University
"This book explores the entrenched "legacy" sectors, comprising over half the economy, that resist disruptive innovations that could stimulate economic growth, generate jobs, and improve safety and the environment....It defines new ways of looking at the dynamics of the innovation process, particularly the key role of "manufacturing-led" innovation, and the book's closing case study is on manufacturing." -- Manufacturing Trends, Sept. 28, 2015, vol. 23, no. 9