The Rise and Fall of Infrastructures: Dynamics of Evolution and Technological Change in Transport

Grubler, A. ORCID: (1990). The Rise and Fall of Infrastructures: Dynamics of Evolution and Technological Change in Transport. Heidelberg: Physica-Verlag. ISBN 3-7908-0479-7

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This book tries to merge two streams of analysis: diffusion research, a relatively recent interdisciplinary field, and the long established disciplines of transportation planning and the economic history of transport systems. After World War II, diffusion research emerged simultaneously from a number of disciplines, including sociology, geography, and the economics of technological change. For over a hundred years economic historians have provided many detailed, but often fragmented studies of the development and socio-economic impacts of individual transport systems.

At a conference held at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in 1989 on Diffusion of Technologies and Social Behavior it became clear that while many valuable theories and models have been developed, a unifying theoretical framework has not yet emerged in diffusion research. This is related to the fact that research has almost exclusively concentrated on a micro-level analysis of technological or social/cultural change. This book makes a contribution toward bridging the different fields of diffusion research. First, by providing an overview of the different theoretical streams within the discipline, and secondly by studying diffusion phenomena for technological change at the sectoral level up to the macro-level diffusion of pervasive transport systems. The economic history of transportation has provided many prominent examples of the fruitfulness of blending macro theory with a strong empirical basis at the sectoral level.

It was not the objective of this work to develop a new comprehensive theory of infrastructure development. Instead, the study aimed at combining the methodological apparatus developed within diffusion research with the empirical research tradition of the economic history of transportation. Its objective was to provide a synthetic description, covering all successive transport modes both individually in their historical evolution, and in their integration into a holistic view of the whole transport sector. The analysis is international and spans about 200 years, i.e., the developments in a number of countries are studied to highlight similarities and differences in development patterns. With such objectives, this work is both a risky and a necessarily limited effort, but it has been undertaken in the hope of providing some new perspectives for people working in, or interested in both fields.

Item Type: Book
Research Programs: Environmentally Compatible Energy Strategies (ECS)
Bibliographic Reference: Physica-Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany [1990]
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Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:00
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:13

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