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Episodes of Collective Invention

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  • Peter B. Meyer

    ()
    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Abstract

The process of developing technology through open discussion has been called collective invention. Open source software projects have this form. This paper documents two earlier episodes of collective invention and proposes a general model based on search theory. One episode was the development of mass production steel in the U.S. (1866-1885), and the second with early personal computers (1975-1985). Technical people openly discussed and shared these developing technologies between firms. Collective invention episodes begin with an invention or a change in legal restrictions. Hobbyists and startup firms experiment with practical methods of production and share their results through a social network whose members gradually form a new industry. The network itself may disappear if the firms then keep their R&D secret. A model of an innovation search can describe this process if it is expanded to include independent hobbyists and consultants as well as profit-seeking firms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 368.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec030050

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Keywords: technological change; uncertainty; search; innovation;

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References

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  1. Julia Porter Liebeskind & Amalya Lumerman Oliver & Lynne G. Zucker & Marilynn B. Brewer, 1995. "Social Networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms," NBER Working Papers 5320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nelson, Richard R, 1982. "The Role of Knowledge in R&D Efficiency," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 453-70, August.
  3. Harhoff, Dietmar & Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Profiting from voluntary information spillovers: how users benefit by freely revealing their innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1769, December.
  4. Schrader, Stephan, 1991. "Informal technology transfer between firms: Cooperation through information trading," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 153-170, April.
  5. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
  6. Nuvolari, A., 2003. "Open source software development: some historical perspectives," Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series 03.01, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS).
  7. Cowan,Robin & Jonard,Nicolas, 2000. "The Dynamics of Collective Invention," Research Memorandum 018, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  8. Nuvolari, A., 2001. "Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution: The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine," Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series 01.04, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS).
  9. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1990. "Long Waves and Short Waves: Growth through Intensive and Extensive Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1391-1409, November.
  10. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
  11. Weber, Steven, 2000. "The Political Economy of Open Source Software," UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, Working Paper Series qt3hq916dc, UCAIS Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, UC Berkeley.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Hellman & Enrico Perotti, 2010. "The Circulation of Ideas in Firms and Markets," Working Papers 2010.47, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Peter B. Meyer, 2005. "Turbulence, Inequality, and Cheap Steel," Working Papers 375, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. Coslovsky, Salo V., 2014. "Economic Development without Pre-Requisites: How Bolivian Producers Met Strict Food Safety Standards and Dominated the Global Brazil-Nut Market," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 32-45.
  4. Roger W. Ferguson & William L. Wascher, 2004. "Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: Lessons from Past Productivity Booms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
  5. Meyer, Peter B., 2007. "Network of Tinkerers: A Model of Open-Source Technology Innovation," Working Papers 413, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  6. Braguinsky, Serguey & Rose, David C., 2009. "Competition, cooperation, and the neighboring farmer effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 361-376, October.
  7. Blecker, Thorsten & Abdelkafi, Nizar & Raasch, Christina, 2008. "Enabling and Sustaining Collaborative Innovation," MPRA Paper 8964, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Julien Pénin, 2008. "More open than open innovation? Rethinking the concept of openness in innovation studies," Working Papers of BETA 2008-18, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  9. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
  10. Shane Greenstein, 2011. "Nurturing the Accumulation of Innovations: Lessons from the Internet," NBER Chapters, in: Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors, pages 189-223 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. James Bessen, 2010. "Communicating Technical Knowledge," Working Papers 1001, Research on Innovation.
  12. repec:reg:wpaper:574 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Blecker, Thorsten & Abdelkafi, Nizar & Raasch, Christina, 2008. "Enabling and sustaining collaborative innovation," Working Papers 52, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.

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