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Technological Creativity and Cheap Labour? Explaining the Growing International Competitiveness of German Mechanical Engineering before World War I

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  • Kirsten Labuske
  • Jochen Streb

Abstract

Which factors caused the growing international competitiveness of German mechanical engineering industry in the pre-World War I period? In this paper, we want to address this question and elucidate whether or not the international market success of machine builders in the German Empire was determined by technological creativity and the availability of a comparatively cheap labour force. Based on an unbalanced panel, we therefore investigate the influence of demand, labour costs and technological creativity on export performance of 32 different machinery types. We find robust evidence that the development of export-import ratios in mechanical engineering was positively influenced by the growth of patent stocks that represent the new knowledge being available for German machine builders. In addition, we present some evidence for the assumption that the growing international competitiveness of German mechanical engineering was also caused by decreasing relative unit labour cost. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2008.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 9 (2008)
Issue (Month): (02)
Pages: 65-86

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:9:y:2008:i::p:65-86

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  1. Streb, Jochen & Wallusch, Jacek & Yin, Shuxi, 2007. "Knowledge spill-over from new to old industries: The case of German synthetic dyes and textiles (1878-1913)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 203-223, April.
  2. Jochen Streb & J�Rg Baten & Shuxi Yin, 2006. "Technological and geographical knowledge spillover in the German empire 1877-1918," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(2), pages 347-373, 05.
  3. Brown, John C., 1995. "Imperfect Competition and Anglo-German Trade Rivalry: Markets for Cotton Textiles before 1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(03), pages 494-527, September.
  4. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, December.
  5. Sullivan, Richard J, 1994. "Estimates of the Value of Patent Rights in Great Britain and Ireland, 1852-1876," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(241), pages 37-58, February.
  6. Greenhalgh, Christine & Taylor, Paul & Wilson, Rob, 1994. "Innovation and Export Volumes and Prices--A Disaggregated Study," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 102-35, January.
  7. Maskell, Peter & Malmberg, Anders, 1999. "Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 167-85, March.
  8. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521584401 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. D Bosworth & G Jobome, 2003. "The Rate of Depreciation of Technological Knowledge: Evidence from Patent Renewal Data," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 8(1), pages 59-82, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Oliver Falck & Christina Guenther & Stephan Heblich & William R. Kerr, 2010. "From Russia with Love: The Impact of Relocated Firms on Incumbent Survival," NBER Working Papers 16141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Richter, Ralf & Streb, Jochen, 2009. "Catching-up and falling behind: knowledge spillover from American to German machine tool makers," FZID Discussion Papers 09-2009, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  4. Streb, Jochen & Wallusch, Jacek & Yin, Shuxi, 2007. "Knowledge spill-over from new to old industries: The case of German synthetic dyes and textiles (1878-1913)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 203-223, April.
  5. Thomas K. Bauer & Jochen Kluve & Sandra Schaffner & Christoph M. Schmidt, 2008. "Fiscal Effects of Minimum Wages – An Analysis for Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 0079, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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