Lab-oriented radical innovations as drivers of paradigm shifts in science

Mario Coccia


An interesting problem in the economics of innovation and strategic management of labs is to explain the drivers of breakthroughs and paradigm shifts in science. This study confronts the issue by analysing a main case study: the technological determinant of the discovery of quasi-periodic materials that has generated a scientific paradigm shift in crystallography. Unlike user-friendly radical innovations, the study here detects some specific radical innovations, defined lab-oriented and adopted by high-skilled users (i.e. researchers) such as Transmission Electron Microscopy, which tend to support breakthroughs and scientific discoveries. This finding is the foundation for a framework, which endeavours to pinpoint the main characteristics and properties of these strategic lab-oriented radical innovations, which in turn spur scientific advances. Technological analysis of this study explains the critical role of specific technologies supporting knowledge creation and scientific discoveries to understand vital drivers of scientific fields and fruitful linkages that run from technological to scientific progress.

Keywords: Technological Innovation, Radical Innovation, Technological Paradigm, Technological Change, Paradigm Shift, Scientific Discovery, R&D Laboratory, Quasi-Periodic Crystals, Quasi-Periodic Materials, Crystallography.

JEL Classification: O30, I31