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Strategic Management of Emergent Nanotechnologies

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Supporting ethical and innovative nanotechnology

Development and management of strategic research agendas (SRAs) are governed by a variety of factors. EU-funded researchers analysed the challenges faced by the emerging nanotechnology sector providing important insights for scientists, businesses and policymakers.

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In order to investigate the multi-faceted nature of new business model creation using emerging nanotechnology as a touchstone, EU-funded researchers initiated the ‘Strategic management of emergent nanotechnologies’ (Smenatech) project. Scientists focused on the study of how individual agents develop strategic business plans in the context of social and economic parameters related to nanotechnology. Smenatech evaluations of EU nanotechnology policy suggested that the high degree of collaborative diversity is creating managerial challenges requiring those involved to develop strategic management capabilities to support technological innovation. Investigators highlighted the various temporal phases associated with the search by entrepreneurs for previously unrecognised opportunities on both the supply and demand sides of technology development. Specifically, the search process proceeds from an open search to a transformative phase to a directional or focused agenda with the process differing greatly in terms of guidance available at each phase. The result is the creation of different types of opportunities at each phase. Finally, no discussion of emerging technologies would be complete without evaluation of ethical components of the SRA. The so-called agent-based approach to ethics in business requires that moral excellence be the goal rather than the constraint. In other words, actions are guided by a rational pursuit of virtue rather than limited by need to conform to certain rules of conduct or a code of ethics. Smenatech research suggests that the delicate interplay among business strategy, ethics and professional identity is dependent on the uncertainty of impact of the associated technologies. The rapidly growing field of nanotechnology is associated with numerous business challenges related to strategic management, innovation pathways and ethical considerations. Smenatech investigators shed light on the challenges and their interrelationships, contributing important knowledge that should be useful in guiding scientists, managers and research policymakers toward ethical and effective innovation partnerships.

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