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Innovation as Trendsetting in the Imaging Sector (with Gino Cattani), in
Small and Medium Sized Companies and the Global Economy, G. Susman
(ed.), Edgar Elgar Publishing, 2007.
The paper presents a preliminary framework of industry evolution taking the photographic sector as a case for documenting the role of firms in shaping the trajectory away from chemical to electronic based imaging. During the three most recent decades this sector has evolved from a dominant design that relied heavily on silver halide towards designs that are strongly embedded in the computer hardware and software domain of knowledge. The evolution spanned Japan, the US and EU and entailed the recombination of existing and new bundles of knowledge which is more or less unique to different firms. Exploring patent citations across many patent classes, we present an analysis of a six firms whose combinative roles are shown to shape the evolutionary trajectory of their sector. Firms might be cast in the role of broker depending on the extend they amass bundles of knowledge which have both firm and inter-firm or sector specific origins. The results suggest that an understanding of industry evolution should draw from institutional, technological, historic-geographic and firm specific observations.