Arenas of expectations for hydrogen technologies

S. Bakker, H. van Lente, M.T.H. Meeus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Technological development is often described as an evolutionary process of variation, selection and retention. Different technologies are seen as variations, while the market and other institutions operate as a selection environment. It is less understood, however, how variation and selection relate in the case of emerging technologies. In this paper we introduce the concept of arenas of expectations to examine the relationship between variation and selection processes. Expectations are of particular interest in a pre-market phase of innovation, when performance, cost and other market criteria are less articulated and not stable. In arenas of expectations ‘enactors’ of particular technological variations voice and maintain expectations, while ‘selectors’ will compare and assess the competing claims. We analyse the expectations work of both parties in a case study on metal hydrides for the on-board storage of hydrogen for automotive applications. The paper concludes with a framework of ‘arenas of expectations’ as the linchpin between the processes of variation and selection of emerging technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Evolutionary economics
  • Expectations
  • Hydrogen


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