Analysing the theoretical roots of technology emergence: an evolutionary perspective

Serhat Burmaoglu, Olivier Sartenaer, Alan Porter, Munan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been much research concerning emergence in technology, ever since knowledge has been accepted as a prime engine of economic growth. However, even though there are a growing number of publications, the concept remains ambiguous. In this study, we aim to trace emergence discussions to find the evolution of related concepts, in order to explore usage in the technological context. To achieve this, the philosophy of science, complexity, and economic literatures are reviewed in accordance with the emergence concept qualitatively. Then, a bibliometrics study is performed to strengthen the qualitative argument and find evidence of emergence in technology studies for comparison. Based on the findings, we can assert that the definition of technology emergence needs to be revised with consideration of its theoretical foundations. Moreover, after discussion, research questions are posed for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-118
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual evolution
  • Emergence
  • Emerging technology
  • Evolution
  • Technology emergence


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