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Diffusion of new technology and complementary best practice: A case study


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During the late nineteenth century, technologies to measure the quality of the milk in butter production became available, enabling creameries to pay suppliers of raw milk according to quality. Having identified the advantages to the creameries in terms of incentive provision, we demonstrate that the diffusion among the cooperative creameries was relatively slow, particularly relative to other technologies adopted by the same creameries over the same period, with a large number dragging their feet . We also observe that late adopters often do not choose the most up-to-date technology and that early adopters who later upgrade their technology in many cases do not choose the current best practice. We consider a number of reasons for the observed patterns, which are at odds with the co-operative creameries being seen as technologically savvy . A proper implementation created both winners and losers among suppliers, and the size of these widened with newer versions of the technology. We show that the slow and inappropriate implementation can be explained by the need to get the technology accepted by a sufficient number of suppliers.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 9 (2005)
Issue (Month): 03 (December)
Pages: 365-397

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Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:9:y:2005:i:03:p:365-397_00

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Cited by:
  1. Henriksen, Ingrid & Lampe, Markus & Sharp, Paul, 2011. "The role of technology and institutions for growth: Danish creameries in the late nineteenth century," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(03), pages 475-493, December.
  2. Leisner, Jorgen J., 2005. "Weeds, heat and pure cultures - On the differential success of new technologies in the Danish and American creamery industries in the 1890s," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 419-433, August.


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