Research Topic

Explaining the Productivity Gap between Frontier Firms and Laggards

About this Research Topic

The innovation literature suggests that successful adoption of new and emerging technologies hinges on critical organizational resources such as knowledge networks and absorptive capacity or the businesses’ capability of assimilating and exploiting new knowledge embodied in the new technology. In turn, the absorptive capacity of a firm is not developed in a vacuum but is the outcome of the interplay of a variety of industry, public policy, and firm-level factors (such as social norms on the use of the new technologies). The context in which formal institutions operate is heterogeneous and in the case of emerging technologies, where expected benefits of adoption are uncertain, industry- and firm-level norms, guidelines, and standards can help the decision-making behind investment in absorptive capacity and adoption. Altogether these factors affect the capability (and the propensity) of adopting new technology.

It has been argued that different attitudes of firms towards the adoption of new technologies can explain why some firms are more innovative than others. Why this is the case, is unclear. It may be that this because non-frontier firms may find the adoption of new technology costly as it requires the reconfiguring of business processes and the development of complementary technologies. Secondly, uncertain returns on new technologies can explain the slow adoption rate. Finally, firms vary in their attitudes towards risk and this may slow down their attitude towards risk.

Therefore, this Research Topic focuses on the drivers of technology adoption at the firm- and industry-level, with the aim to explain the differential rates of technology adoption among firm in an area. We welcome papers (both qualitative and quantitative) on the following topics:
• Business models and adoption of new technologies. Business models are usually rationalized as a number of mechanisms that can create and capture value. Current literature has not tested whether there are business models that may facilitate the adoption of new technologies. We would welcome papers that explicitly study the connection between business models and adoption and whether some elements of the business model can facilitate adoption.
• Intellectual Property Regimes and diffusion of new technologies. Intellectual property regimes can define the technological opportunities for new and existing firms and therefore we would expect different regimes to have a differential impact on the diffusion of technologies in the industry. We would welcome papers identifying mechanisms that lead to the emergence of intellectual property regimes that may facilitate the diffusion of new technologies and reduce the adoption risks.
• Impact of business practices on the adoption of new technologies in the private sector. Existing practices within a company can slow down the adoption of new technologies. This issue can be particularly relevant in the case of firms that are away from the industry frontier. We would welcome papers exploring the practices within businesses that can accelerate the adoption of new technologies and how they can be implemented within businesses. We are particularly interested in industry-level levers that can trigger change and how the public sector can support the process of change.


Keywords: Productivity, Artificial Intelligence, Frontier, Laggards, intellectual property


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The innovation literature suggests that successful adoption of new and emerging technologies hinges on critical organizational resources such as knowledge networks and absorptive capacity or the businesses’ capability of assimilating and exploiting new knowledge embodied in the new technology. In turn, the absorptive capacity of a firm is not developed in a vacuum but is the outcome of the interplay of a variety of industry, public policy, and firm-level factors (such as social norms on the use of the new technologies). The context in which formal institutions operate is heterogeneous and in the case of emerging technologies, where expected benefits of adoption are uncertain, industry- and firm-level norms, guidelines, and standards can help the decision-making behind investment in absorptive capacity and adoption. Altogether these factors affect the capability (and the propensity) of adopting new technology.

It has been argued that different attitudes of firms towards the adoption of new technologies can explain why some firms are more innovative than others. Why this is the case, is unclear. It may be that this because non-frontier firms may find the adoption of new technology costly as it requires the reconfiguring of business processes and the development of complementary technologies. Secondly, uncertain returns on new technologies can explain the slow adoption rate. Finally, firms vary in their attitudes towards risk and this may slow down their attitude towards risk.

Therefore, this Research Topic focuses on the drivers of technology adoption at the firm- and industry-level, with the aim to explain the differential rates of technology adoption among firm in an area. We welcome papers (both qualitative and quantitative) on the following topics:
• Business models and adoption of new technologies. Business models are usually rationalized as a number of mechanisms that can create and capture value. Current literature has not tested whether there are business models that may facilitate the adoption of new technologies. We would welcome papers that explicitly study the connection between business models and adoption and whether some elements of the business model can facilitate adoption.
• Intellectual Property Regimes and diffusion of new technologies. Intellectual property regimes can define the technological opportunities for new and existing firms and therefore we would expect different regimes to have a differential impact on the diffusion of technologies in the industry. We would welcome papers identifying mechanisms that lead to the emergence of intellectual property regimes that may facilitate the diffusion of new technologies and reduce the adoption risks.
• Impact of business practices on the adoption of new technologies in the private sector. Existing practices within a company can slow down the adoption of new technologies. This issue can be particularly relevant in the case of firms that are away from the industry frontier. We would welcome papers exploring the practices within businesses that can accelerate the adoption of new technologies and how they can be implemented within businesses. We are particularly interested in industry-level levers that can trigger change and how the public sector can support the process of change.


Keywords: Productivity, Artificial Intelligence, Frontier, Laggards, intellectual property


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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