The Dynamics of Google within the Frame of a Large Technical System

An LTS analysis of Google


  • Julian Johannes Schäfer



Google, System Builders, Momentum, Transfer, Large Technical System


The Large Technical System approach was introduced by the influential historian of technology, Thomas P. Hughes, in the 1970’s and is one of the most prominent theoretical frameworks within the Science and Technology Studies. However, it has found little attention in relation to the digital realm. This research applies the LTS framework onto the US-American company Google and seeks to bring a conceptual understanding to the company’s exponential growth. Thus, it describes the emergence and evolution of Google as a complex system – an alignment of components of technical and non-technical nature – and assigns patterns and concepts to its development. This research provides an answer to how Google not only gained a system structure but also reached the notion of momentum. Yet, suggesting a social constructivist path, this paper secludes by elucidating the influencing power of the LTS’s user – an important factor which was widely disregarded in the initial works of Hughes.


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