THE NATURE OF TECHNOLOGICAL STYLES Perez defines a 'technological style' as 'a sort of "ideal type" of productive organisation or best technological "common sense" which develops as a response to what are perceived as the stable dynamics of the relative cost structure'. In other words, the basic techniques of production, and methods of organisation, which are seen as the most efficient and profitable, change in response to the appearance of new key factors ofproduction which are: (a) clearly very cheap, by past standards, and tending to get cheaper, and (b) potentially all-pervasive. For example, when (as we shall see) the price of steel plummeted after 1850, this had drastic implications for methods of production throughout the economy. About half a century later, the cheapening of various forms of energy, particularly oil and electricity, played a similar role in the development of the Fordist style. The new 'style' is:

grounded on the introduction of a cluster or constellation of interrelated innovations both technical and managerial which lead to the attainment of a general level of total factor or physical productivity clearly superior to what was 'normal' with the previous technological style.