Technology value has been a subject of extensive research, often focusing on the impact of novelty and conventionality. However, most existing literature has not adequately considered the role of the technology’s relative position in the technological space, which is crucial for its adoption and subsequent value realization. This study aims to fill this gap by introducing the concept of “rareness,” a composite measure that captures both novelty and conventionality.

In a recent paper by Prof. Hyunwoo Park and his co-authors published in Production and Operations Management, the authors argue that the value of a technology is determined by a trade-off between the benefits of adopting a rare technology and the costs associated with understanding and integrating it. They propose an inverted-U shaped relationship between rareness and technology value, suggesting that there is an optimal level of rareness that maximizes a technology’s value. This relationship is further moderated by the technology’s search basis, becoming steeper when built on more local knowledge but flatter if the technology embeds more mature knowledge.

Empirical tests were conducted using U.S. firm patent data in nanotechnology filed between 1978 and 2010. The results corroborate the hypothesized inverted-U shape relationship and also reveal significant moderation by the domain of search and the maturity of sourced knowledge. This study contributes to the existing literature by providing a nuanced understanding of how valuable technologies arise, considering both their inherent features and their relative positions in the technological landscape.

The paper is a significant addition to the fields of operations strategy, R&D management, and technology valuation. It provides actionable insights for firms and policymakers on how to evaluate the potential value of emerging technologies, taking into account their rareness and the context in which they are developed. By offering a comprehensive framework that integrates the concept of “rareness” into the valuation of technology, this study opens new avenues for understanding the complex dynamics that determine technology value.