Cross-National Complementarity of Technology Push, Demand Pull, and Manufacturing Push Policies: The Case of Photovoltaics

Publication Date

August 2018

Document Type


Publication Title

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management



First Page


Last Page



Researchers have debated the relative importance of technology push and demand pull policies in the adoption of environmental technologies. Here, we examine how internationally distributed technology push and demand pull policies interact to support the diffusion of a renewable energy technology. We analyze 40 years (1974–2013) of solar photovoltaic policies in three countries: USA, Germany, and China. We identify four phases of international policy interactions: in Phase 1 (1974–1990), the USA launched technology push policies; in Phase 2 (1991–2003), Germany pioneered demand pull policies; in Phase 3 (2004–2008), China responded to international market incentive programs with a scaling up of manufacturing; and in Phase 4 (2008–2013), Germany reduced whereas China increased demand policies. Our contributions are threefold: First, we demonstrate the importance of “manufacturing push” alongside the standard technology push and demand pull factors; second, we show how global adoption was spurred by the complementarity of policy efforts across national boundaries, while considering the tradeoffs in climate change policy between increasing global environmental welfare and improving national economic development; third, we demonstrate three generic patterns of cross-national policy complementarity.


Demand pull and technology push, energy policy, energy transition, environmental innovation, policy instruments, renewable energy, solar photovoltaic, sustainability, technology diffusion, Technological innovation, Manufacturing, Industries, Government, Photovoltaic systems, Investment


SJSU users: use the following link to login and access the article via SJSU databases.