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Schumpeter, Schumacher and the greening of technology

Phillimore, J. (2001) Schumpeter, Schumacher and the greening of technology. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 13 (1). pp. 23-37.

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How compatible are the ideas of neo-Schumpeterians (following in the footsteps of Schumpeter, the modern father of technology and innovation studies), and Schumacher, the modern father of sustainable development? At one level, there appears to be a mutually reinforcing and positive relationship between the application of new technology, innovation and improved environmental peformance. However, other environmentalists argue that 'global Schumpeter dynamics', by promoting more rapid economic growth worldwide, will swamp any relative improvements in environmental performance and intensity. The tensions between the two perspectives are perhaps most evident in discussions about a possible shift towards a green 'techno-economic paradigm' (TEP). This pape asks wheether a green TEP is possibele, and what it might look like, in the light of these perspectives. Neo-Schumpeterians note that while the current information technology TEP shows some sustainability characteristics, it is not inherently 'green. However, they consider that the groundwork for a sixth, green TEP can be prepared through a mix of policies on research and development, regulation, transport, etc. Schumacher also saw technology as crucial to developing a sustainable world. But his view of sustainability was based on largely self-sufficient and community-led 'intermediate technology' that applied modern science and technology to local settings on an appropriate human and technical scale. What would be the 'key factor' of a green TEP, analogous to the microchip in the fifth, information and communication technology paradigm? A neo-Schumpeterian possibility is hydrogen, in the form of fuel cells. But whether a hydrogen-based society society (and economy) can be called 'green', in the sense of the environmental principles espoused by Schumacher, is highly debatble. A less explored possibility-local self-sufficiency-is much more attuned to Schumacher's ideals. This would require people (and their labour) to become tehnew 'key factor' in a green TEP.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
Publisher: Routledge
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