Theoretical literature on the economics of technology has emphasised the effects on technological trajectories of positive feedbacks. In a competition among technologies that all perform a similar function, the presence of increasing returns to adoption can force all but one technology from the market. Furthermore, the victor need not be the superior technology. This paper provides an empirical study of one technological competition which illuminates this theoretical work. It uses theoretical results to explain why chemical control of agricultural pests remains the dominant technology in spite of many claims that it is inferior to its main competitor, integrated pest management.
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