Journal Article

Who rules the development of nanotechnologies? Expert knowledge challenging the flexible regulation of innovation – the perspective of two European regions


  • Ott
  • I.
  • Papilloud
  • C.
  • Zülsdorf
  • T.
Publication Date

Nanotechnologies (together with biotechnology, information and cognitive sciences) belong to the so-called converging technologies that are expected to move social modes of exchange towards a more functional, coarser mesh. The innovations they enable, are supposed to empower science, economy and society. However, research, development and diffusion of this sector depend on the adaptability of existing economic structures and on the social acceptance of its products and services. Moreover, because of nanotechnologies’ features, externalities and risks of systemic divergences caused by potentially uncontrollable or unwanted interactions between sectors, actors, and environments may arise and disturb the efficiency of the corresponding innovation process. Converging institutions aim to manage these market imperfections and their resulting social risks in the long term. They rely on social groups specialising in the design, application, and diffusion of nanotechnologies within society, whose functioning is explored in this article using data from a comparative survey carried out in Grenoble (France) and Hamburg (Germany)