Exploring the generic fallacy — meta path-dependencies in innovation-practices of ‘drone-making’ (eVTOLs)





generic technologies, lock-in, meta path-dependency, drones, innovation practices


Generic technologies are oftentimes heralded as overall beneficial drivers of innovation, especially regarding their flexibility, low cost of adaption (once established) and their inclusiveness toward a variety of actors. This paper adds to literature on innovation-studies by questioning these promises through the lenses of ‘lock in’ and ‘path dependencies’ and asks how generic approaches to innovation may contribute to a fallacy where increased flexibility is assumed yet implicitly, a sort of ‘lock in genericism’ may occur. The paper argues that, for all the advantages that come with the research and adaption of generic technologies, they also bring with them an increased risk of enamourment with innovations that are applicable to a range of potential applications that, in turn, may lead to more specific technological innovations being at the danger of becoming invisible / unwanted altogether. To investigate this phenomenon further, the paper applies the concept of ‘lock in genericism’ to the field of eVTOL-multicopter- / drone-innovation. In this context, the paper analyzes a series of three case-studies to investigate how this ‘lock-in genericism’ emerges from material, temporal and spatial components of drone-making and subsequently seeks to outline a framework for ‘integrating generic technologies’ in this particular field of application (of drones) to overcome the described lock-in in this field while maintaining their advantages. The paper concludes by discussing the relevance of the concept of ‘lock-in genericism’ on a broader level, highlighting the risk of a ‘generic turn’ in contemporary innovation practices that, in turn, requires critical reflection.


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Figure 7. Map of contemporary building blocks of eVTOL  multicopter




How to Cite

Weller, K. (2023). Exploring the generic fallacy — meta path-dependencies in innovation-practices of ‘drone-making’ (eVTOLs). Science, Technology and Innovation, 18(3-4), 15–29. https://doi.org/10.55225/sti.484



Original articles