Here's the difficulty I have with Kondratiev waves: it really seems to take two waves to create a complete cycle. What Perez calls a "technological style" actually unfolds over two Kondratiev waves. Between the two there is a regulation crisis with some kind of "successful" resolution (although it is very hard to call WWII "successful"); and then at the end, a kind of chaotic period during which the technological style begins to change.
Here is Perez's basic thesis, first stated in a 1983 article in the journal Futures:
“We propose that the capitalist system be seen as a single very complex structure, the sub-systems of which have different rates of change. For the sake of simplicity we can assume two main subsystems: on the one hand a techno-economic, and on the other a social and institutional, the first having a much faster rate of response. The long waves would be successive phases in the evolution of the system, or successive modes of development. The root cause of the dynamics of the system would be the profit motive as generator of innovations, understood in the broadest sense as a way of increasing productivity. Each mode of development would be shaped in response to a specific technological style understood as a paradigm for the most efficient organization of production.”
"A structural crisis (ie the depression in a long wave), as distinct from an economic recession, would be the visible syndrome of a breakdown in the complementarity between the dynamics of the economic subsystem and the
related dynamics of the socio-institutional framework. It is, in the same movement, the painful and conflict-ridden process through which a dynamic harmony is reestablished among the different spheres of the total system."
The problem is, Perez never makes it clear that the "technological style" unfolds over TWO waves. Yet if you look in the article above at her discussion of the way that Fordism emerged during the Third Kondratiev, it is clear. In fact, she begins with a discussion of Taylor's organizational innovations at Bethlehem Steel in 1898-1901. So the technological style originates directly with the key capital-goods industry of the Third Kondratiev, namely steel. After the regulation crisis of the 30s and its successful Keynesian resolution, it then expands from capital goods (Marx's Dept. 1) to a vast range of consumer goods in the Fourth Kondratiev. In this sense, the "technological style" of factory mass production extends from the late 1890s all the way to the early 1970s (with plenty of residual effects in our time, for sure).
What this gives you, I think, are three major technological styles and three corresponding regulation crises:
--Steam power and railway development - with innovation by individual inventor-entrepreneurs under the organizational form of the joint-stock company - begins in the 1830s and produces significant results in the 40s, followed by the crisis of 1848 and then a long period of development (Second Kondratiev). During this mature phase, craft-based manufacturing (and in the US, the so-called "American System of Manufactures") provides the basis of mass employment.
--Mass manufacturing - with national innovation systems under the organizational form of the vertically integrated corporation - begins in the first decade of the 20th century and produces significant results by the 20s, followed by the institutional crisis beginning in '29, then a long period of development in the postwar period (Fourth Kondratiev). During this mature phase, assembly-line factories provide the basis of mass employment, with a major expansion of the middle strata for management, engineering, research, social services etc.
--Informationalism - with a transnational open-innovation system under the form of the networked enterprise - begins in the 70s and produces significant results by the 90s, followed by the institutional crisis which begins in 2008. If the crisis is resolved, the information-based technological style could expand (nano-bio-cogno, health and ecological services) and produce the Sixth Kondratiev. What's missing now is exactly what the new wave would supply, a basis of mass employment and a new role for the educated middle strata.
For me, the above periodization finally works. In this scheme, the five historical Kondratiev waves each have their own key technologies and their own upswing and downswing, but waves 1, 3, and 5 are all marked by the rollout of a new capital-goods sector, while 2, 4, and potentially 6 would give the new technological style a basis in mass prosperity. The currently declining wave, number 5, has already produced a lot of prosumer technology (the PC is comparable to the ModelT! and Steve Jobs is the Alfred P. Sloan of the Fifth Kondratiev!) but the new productive technology and the networked organizational form has totally destroyed the former social basis of capitalism in the advanced economies. Mass prosperity was on credit-drip life support till 2008 and has now collapsed. The working classes have been destroyed in the core countries and therefore, the middle-managerial classes too.
I would have some further remarks about how the decline of British hegemony influences the Third Kondratiev, and how the decline of American hegemony influences the Fifth, but that's for another day.