Carnegie Mellon University

Domains of research expertise

SET Change and its related graduate and undergraduate curricula draw upon an extensive portfolio of analytical studies by Carnegie Mellon University researchers.  Their work employs tools of the social sciences and humanities, especially economics and history, in a close and continuing dialogue with science and engineering to deepen understanding of technological change.  This work focuses on technological change and innovation as engines that create not only enterprises but also entire industries.  Encompassing many hundreds of published works, the interdisciplinary research portfolio emanating from the SET Change faculty illuminates several broad areas of investigation.

Origins of firms and sources of performance

    Carnegie Mellon researchers have cultivated a rich area of inquiry to interpret the sources of technological change and innovation within firms, which cause the formation of fast-growing industries.  They have studied technology-driven growth among in many industrial sectors, including producers of semiconductors, software and automobiles, investigations that identify new ways of thinking about how technological change forces the spinning-off of enterprises to form new industries. 

    Drawing upon empirical analysis of the behaviors of individual firms, the topic opens new insights into the ways in which technological change triggers the formation and demise of enterprises, affects industrial output, prices and rates of production and innovation.  This research interprets the effects of seemingly small-scale factors within firms, which produce large-scale changes within dynamic industries.  Such studies offer new insights into policies that encourage the formation of innovative firms and deepen understanding of opportunities for building creative relationships among the incumbent firms of technology-driven industries.

Nature and organization of research & development

    This scholarship places special emphasis on the organizational underpinnings of technological innovation through the examination of research structures and approaches to the management of proprietary interests in science and engineering. These studies analyze various models for the sponsorship and governance of scientific and engineering activities.  They probe the question of how large organizations create the conditions for innovation.  This research examines the management of large-scale Research & Development within science-based industries, such as chemicals. 

    This area of concentrated studies also examine the development of manufacturing technology, the automation of manufacturing systems and the influences and effects of large-scale systems of technological change and innovation on relationships between the economies of nations.  Carnegie Mellon University researchers have investigated the management of research and development activities from the standpoint of multiple regional and national approaches, including the experience of Asian industries as technology innovators, with special emphasis on Japanese models, and developing as well as developed nations.  The scope of this research encompasses the history of thinking about the economics of R&D and the creation of analytical tools to assess and guide policies affecting technological change across industries and national economies. 

Research universities and the commercialization of knowledge

    The modern research university, as a vital component of the intellectual infrastructure driving technological change and innovation also constitutes a subject of study within the community of SETChange scholars, assessing such topics as the influence of academic science on industrial innovation. 

Intellectual property and foreign investment

    Carnegie Mellon University faculty members involved in this program have also developed a significant body of research into the influence of intellectual property rights and foreign investment on technological change, innovation and entrepreneurship.  This work examines the role of patents in key industries, including information technology and biotechnology, while also investigating the effects of intellectual property rights on international technology transfer, foreign direct investment and other issues related to the control, licensing and management of proprietary ideas.  This work studies IPR effects across industries and investigates specific experience in many regions, including East and South Asia.

Market structures and geographic clusters

    The SET Change faculty’s knowledge of the dynamics of technology-based industries informs extensive research into the influence of technological change on market structures.  These studies examine such topics as the effects of market structures on competitiveness and divisions of labor in technological markets.  It looks at the formation of new market structures as technology-based industries evolve, and the impact of innovation on market structure, transactions costs and supply chains.  Geographic concentrations of firms in technology-based industries in developed and developing regions are also a subject of intense and continuing interest in this research portfolio. 

Environmental innovation

    The interdisciplinary collaboration of SETChange scholars in engineering and science with colleagues in the social sciences also produces research into the influence of technological innovation on issues of environmental regulation.  This scholarship takes a close look at technological change's influence on regulation of automotive emissions controls and the social costs of emissions testing while also investigating technological approaches to regulatory compliance.  

Graduate student research

    The SET Change program of doctoral studies inspires a new generation of scholars to extend these investigations through original research.  Ph.D. candidates in the program examine such topics as the influence of research & development on technology-based industries in emerging economies and the effect of human capital distribution on the growth of traditional industries in developing economies.  Candidates in the program also have identified catalysts for spin-off enterprises in narrowly focused technology-based industries, the effects of regulation on business innovation and adoption of environmental technologies and reforms of intellectual property rights on developing world industries.