The early development of the steam engine : an evolutionary interpretation using complexity theory

K. Frenken, A. Nuvolari

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic

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Abstract

In this paper we analyse the early development of the steam engine as a search process in a multidimensional design space. This conceptualisation allows us to make use of recent insights coming from complex systems theory, in particular, a generalised version of Kauffman’s NK model. We analyse yearly distribution of steam engine designs and their sector of applications for the period 1760-1800. We interpret the patterns of variety and differentiation characterizing the behaviour of these distributions as emerging properties of underlying search processes unfolding on the design space. We conclude that the early development of steam power technology can be understood as a process of ‘technological speciation’ of various engine designs in distinct users’ niches.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEindhoven
PublisherTechnische Universiteit Eindhoven
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Publication series

NameECIS working paper series
Volume200315

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