Neutrality in Technological Landscapes
Jose Lobo, John H. Miller, and Walter Fontana
Key Words:
Technological Innovation, Organizations, Neutrality, Evolvability
Searching for technological and organizational innovations is a fundamental activity in social systems. Recent work in this area has focused on the notion of firms locally searching for high points on a ``fitness landscape.'' Here we show how the presence of neutral networks forming pathways of temporarily inconsequential changes can alter the potential of innovation in such worlds. In particular, such neutral muddling can ultimately improve the potential of the system for innovative leaps. Neutrality provides organizational and technological systems a degree of robustness against tinkering while simultaneously being a crucial enabler of change and innovation.