Transferts technologiques et naturalisations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Global technologies often generate local solutions. While the broad principles of a novel technology may be clear, development of practical technology is often a localised activity. The early development of numerical control for machine tools discussed here shows different approaches were tried in Japan, the USA, Sweden and the UK. At this early stage in the industry life cycle there were many firms jostling for competitive advantage. Design solutions varied. Users had yet to define their needs. So each country appropriated the technology of numerical control differently. As is often the case, new technologies evolved along national lines. Collaboration with local users, a measure of trade protection, and government support aimed towards local firms all generated niches where national technologies could briefly prosper. These essays show how local needs generated variety in the supply of new control technology for machine tools and factory automation between 1950 and 1980. While there was a proliferation of local designs at an early stage in the industry lifecycle for numerical control, global markets and international competition presented a tough selection mechanism. Scranton and Wilson argue “Fanuc rose to dominate the world market in machine controls through its products’ simplicity, elegance, performance and reliability.” Once dominant designs become established, early participants fall away. Companies were forced to exit or adopt niche strategies as the number of global suppliers was whittled down.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLe monde du genie industriel au XXe siècle: autour de Pierre Bézier et des machines-outils
Place of PublicationBelfort, France
PublisherUniversité de Technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-2-914279-92-5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015