Value chains as a linking-pin framework for exploring governance and innovation in nano-involved sectors: illustrated for nanotechnologies and the food packaging sector


  • Douglas Robinson teQnode


Nanotechnology is often referred to as an entity in itself, a promising technoscience that may enable a vast array of products that will affect and change society. Looking beneath the umbrella-term of “nanotechnology” what is actually occurring with regards to the emergence of product/applications?  And what does this mean for governance of emerging nano-involved product development and societal uptake?.

The article argues that one must move beyond the broad umbrella term of nanotechnology to explore governance challenges.  It posits that for exploring governance of nano-applications, a much ignored level of analysis – the industrial value chain – is  a promising level of analysis in both identifying the current activities and potential impacts of nanotechnology and the modes of governance that are in play, how they evolve and how they could be shaped.

Focusing on value chains is important for the near and mid-term in order to evaluate and characterise the smorgasbord of techno-scientific promises stemming from nanotechnology and the effects of broader sectoral changes on potential nano-enabled products that may reach citizen-consumers. 

As nanotechnology enters various parts of the agrifood sector, the emerging governance arrangements of nanotechnology meet incumbent (and still developing) governance regimes, consumer positions and actor arrangements.  The paper further articulates this claim, closing with an outlook on what sort of approaches could be used for foresighting potential developments in nanotechnology, their impacts and potential frameworks for exploring and modulating nanotechnology governance.

Author Biography

Douglas Robinson, teQnode

Douglas provides strategic technology intelligence and future-oriented analysis on emerging science and technology fields in his consultancy teQnode.  He combines analysis of expectations with innovation models to inform analysis and future-oriented assessments of potential innovations to characterise opportunities, challenges and projections of emerging technologies and their embedment in markets and society.    Educated originally as a physicist and space scientist, with research experience in the medical sector, Douglas holds a PhD in constructive technology assessment and future studies  of emerging technologies and has completed post-doctoral research in the field of management of innovation with a view to understanding the innovation processes of SME’s and large firms.  He continues to be involved with innovation management research and future oriented analyses as a research associate within the Management Science Lab (CGS), Ecole des Mines, Paris and researcher at Le Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS), France.






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