Building on the existing literature on evolutionary innovation and technological change, this paper aims to identify potential signals of technological discontinuities and to obtain assessments of experts to what extent these signals help them to predict discontinuities. Furthermore, we analyze whether internal experts (experts employed with firms) and external experts (e.g., consultants) differ in the importance they attribute to signals as predictors of technological discontinuities. The empirical analysis is based on a unique dataset obtained from a conjoint analysis conducted with 29 experts in the ICT industry. The conjoint approach allows for a simulation of the forecasting process and considers utility trade-offs. The results show that for both types of experts the perceived benefit of users most highly contributes to predicting technological discontinuities. Internal experts assign more importance to legal frameworks (e.g., standards) as signals helping them to predict technological discontinuities than external experts. The latter, in turn, assign more importance to profit margins and the recombination potential of technologies than their internal counterparts. Our results add important insights to the literature on R&D and innovation management.
- ICT industry
- Technological discontinuities
- Weak signals