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Beyond a better mousetrap: A cultural analysis of the adoption of ethanol in Brazil

By Luciara Nardon and Kathryn Aten


Complex technologies develop within technological systems that include, in addition to discrete technologies, organizations (e.g., manufacturing firms, investment banks), scientific elements (e.g., teaching and research programs), and legislative elements (e.g., regulations). The tangible aspects of technologies do not alone determine their end configuration or success; rather, social and cultural practices, expectations, and relationships influence the development of technologies just as technologies influence these factors. We argue that culture provides actors with logic principles with which to construct action, influencing the trajectory of technological systems by reinforcing a process of path dependent development. We analyze the case of ethanol adoption in Brazil. Brazil's adoption of an ethanol-fueled transportation system derives from a pattern of adaptation in response to salient issues. We argue that a unique characteristic of Brazilian culture, jeitinho, influenced the development of the Brazil's ethanol-fueled transportation system.Technology and culture Technological systems Technological change

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