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What is Morphology?

Morphological Analysis (MA) is among the most intellectually challenging exercises for understanding technology.  The term represents the study of ‘structure’ and ‘form’, and is more commonly used in biological sciences and linguistics.  It is also used for practicing creativity skills.

In the context of technologies, MA requires that we represent a technological product or process in terms of its ‘structural’ components (also referred to as ‘dimensions’), and the variants (also referred to as ‘options’) corresponding to each component.  A comprehensive morphological representation of a technology would enable a deeper understanding and also lead to the discovery of newer technological possibilities.  In other words, MA is a powerful tool for technological creativity and innovation.

The Morphology of Technology, Toothbrush, Watch and Umbrella are presented here.

Technology Morphology Toothbrush Morphology Watch Morphology Shoe Morphology Umbrella Morphology


1. Which technologies are relatively more difficult to represent using MA?  Why?

2. Would you be able to present an MA of any technological product or process that you are familiar with?

3. What about an MA for shoes?

Suggestion: Try to find out more about MA and Fred Zwicky’s work.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India