Smihula waves

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Smihula waves (or Smihula cycles, Smihula waves of technological revolutions, economic waves of technological revolutions) are long-term waves of technological progress which are reflected also in long-term economic waves.[1] They are a crucial notion of Daniel Šmihula's theory of technological progress.

Characteristics of the theory[edit]

The Smihula's theory of waves of technological revolutions is based on the idea that the main technological innovations are introduced in society and the economy not continually but in specific waves, and the time spans of these waves is shortening due to technological progress.[2][3][4]

The time period with the highest concentration of technological innovations is labeled as a "technological revolution" A period of technological revolution (an innovation phase) is associated with economic revival. When new but also already-proven and reliable technologies are available, the interest in new technological development temporary declines and investments are diverted from research to their maximal practical utilization. This period we can designate as an application phase. It is also associated with economic growth and perhaps even an economic boom. However, at a certain moment profitability (profit/price ratio) from new innovations and new sectors declines to the level acquired from older traditional sectors. Markets are saturated by technological products – (market saturation – everybody has a mobile phone, every small town has a railway station) and new capital investment in this originally new sector will not bring any above-average profit (e.g. the first railways connected the biggest cities with many potential passengers, later ones had ever smaller and smaller customer potential, and the level of profit from each new railway was therefore lower than from the previous one). At this moment economic stagnation and crisis begin – but a will to risk and to try something new emerges. The stagnation and crisis are therefore overcome by a new technological revolution with new innovations which will revitalize the economy.[5] And this new technological revolution is the beginning of a new wave.[6]

The internal structure of each long wave of technological innovations with economic implications is as follows:

a) innovation phase – technological revolution (an economic revival after the crisis from the end of a previous wave)

b) application phase (an economic boom)

c) saturation of economy and society with innovations, impossibility of further extensive growth (an economic crisis)

Technological revolutions[edit]

In Smihula theory technological revolutions are the main engine of economic development, and hence long-term economic cycles are dependent on these waves of technological innovation.[7] Smihula identified during the modern age in society six waves of technological innovations begun by technological revolutions (one of them is a hypothetical revolution in the near future). Unlike other scholars he believed that it is possible to find similar technological revolutions and long-term economic waves dependant on them even in pre-modern ages. (This is the most original part of the Smihula's theory.)

Pre-modern technological waves:

Wave Period Technological revolution The most important innovations
A. 1900–1100 BC Indo-European technological revolution horse-breeding, chariots, iron
B. 700–200 BC Celtic and Greek technological revolution iron tools and weapons, Greek classical civilization
C. 300–700 AD Germano-Slavic technological revolution two-field crop rotation, improvements in iron metallurgy, heavy plough, longboat, horse stirrups
D. 930–1200 Medieval technological revolution horse-collar, horse-shoes, water and wind mills, paper, beans, fertilization, heavy cavalry, crossbow, three-field crop rotation, university
E. 1340–1470 Renaissance technological revolution eyeglasses, fire-arms, spinning wheel, Hindu-Arabic numerals, blast furnace, letterpress, watch, astrolabe, compass, oceanic sails

Modern technological waves:

Wave Period Technological revolution The leading sectors
1. 1600–1740 Financial-agricultural


finance, agriculture, trade
2. 1780–1840 Industrial revolution textile, iron, coal, railways, channels
3. 1880–1920 Technical revolution chemistry electrotechnical industry, machinery
4. 1940–1970 Scientific-technical


air-industry, nuclear industry, astronautics, synthetic materials,

oil industry, cybernetics

5. 1985–2000 Information and

telecommunications revolution

telecommunications, cybernetics, informatics, internet
6. 2015–2025 (?) hypothetical post-information

technological revolution

biomedicine, nanotechnology, alternative fuel systems

Theory of Smihula waves of technological revolutions is popular among supporters of the long economic waves (e.g. Kondratieff cycles)[8] and among scholars who believs that the economic crisis in 2007–2012 was a result of the technological stagnation.[9][10][11][12]

Russian sociologist A.A. Davydov believes that he even identified a specific mathematical formula for the lengths of Smihula waves which is based on the Fibonacci sequence.[13]


As Smihula published his theory in the time of revived interest in long economic cycles and when a link between economic cycles and technological revolutions was generally accepted (e.g. in works of Carlota Perez), it did not evoke strong criticism or opposition. On the other side it has the same problem as the other long-cycles theories – it is sometime hard to support them by exact data and the potential curve of a long time development is always modified by other short-time factors – therefore its course is always only a rather abstract reconstruction. Also the idea of concentration of the most important innovation in certain bordered periods seems to be very logical, but its verification depends on a very subjective definition of the "most important" innovations. Smihula's theory of long waves of technological innovations and economic cycles dependent on them is more popular in Russia, Brazil[14] and India[15] than in Europe.[16][17]


  1. ^ Niels Posthumus: Financiële lente is nog ver weg (Trouw, 12/11/10)
  2. ^ Šmihula, Daniel (2009): The waves of the technological innovations of the modern age and the present crisis as the end of the wave of the informational technological revolution, Studia politica Slovaca, 1/2009, Bratislava, ISSN 1337-8163, pp. 32–47 [1]
  3. ^ Šmihula, Daniel (2011): Long waves of technological innovations, Studia politica Slovaca, 2/2011, Bratislava, ISSN 1337-8163, pp. 50–69 [2]
  4. ^ D.Šmihula: Informačná a komunikačná revolúcia sa stáva minulosťou, SLOVO, 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  5. ^ Brian Chan: Future of Product Design (2011) Archived 2011-08-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Shipbuilding – Market Forecast Archived 2012-07-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Halina Ward: "The Future of Democracy in the Face of Climate Change", Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (January 2012), p. 86 and 127
  8. ^ KONDRATIEV E LE SUE ONDE/KONDRATIEV AND THE WAVES (2011) Archived 2013-02-22 at
  9. ^ Smihula's Modified Kondratiev-Wave Schema[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Kondratieff Wave
  11. ^ Lewy Land: Kondratieff Waves... Crashed Our Economy!
  12. ^ Mag. Veronika Hornung-Prähauser, MAS: Systemic innovations enabled by information and communication technology in education (2011) [3]
  14. ^ Ivan Barbosa da Cunha: RELATÓRIO E PARECER PRÉVIO DAS CONTAS ANUAIS DO GOVERNO DO ESTADO DO PARÁ EXERCÍCIO 2009 (2010)[5][permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Dr. Prashant Wasankar: Riding the Bull
  16. ^ Enrico Tronchin: Disruptive innovation for sustained economic growth, Why New Zealand’s innovation system should be open, distributed and inclusive of innovative users (2011), in Proceedings of the International Conference on Invention, Innovation and Commercialisation with special emphasis on Technology Users Innovation (TUI), p.37 [6][7]
  17. ^ Simon Berkovich: Obtaining inexhaustible clean energy by parametric resonance under nonlocality clocking (2010) "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-13. Retrieved 2012-03-18.