Categories of Technology Assessment and Their Effect on Strategy Emphasis
This chapter describes most salient ways in which technology assessment (TA) situations differ from one another and to the methodological consequences of those differences. This will entail contrasting the extremes along four dimensions of the TA situation: Problem-oriented versus technology-oriented assessments; Physical versus management technologies; Existing versus emerging technologies; and Major versus minor technological interventions. The distinction between problem-oriented and technology-oriented assessments was identified in an early report on TA by the National Academy of Engineering. The implementation of a physical technology involves a management philosophy, and likewise institutional change often employs some physical technology. Feasible technological alternatives are considerably narrowed for an existing technology as compared to an emerging one. Major interventions would have so great an effect that any future societal projection would be significantly altered by the very presence of the technology; societal projection and technology projection would have to be accomplished together.