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General Purpose Technologies and the Industrial Revolution

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  • Leonard Dudley

Abstract

Did breakthroughs in core processes during the Industrial Revolution tend to generate further innovations in downstream technologies? Here a theoretical model examines the effect of a political shock on a non-innovating society in which there is high potential willingness to cooperate. The result is regional specialization in the innovation process by degree of cooperation. tests with a zero-inflated Poisson specification indicate that 116 important innovations between 1700 and 1849 may be grouped into three categories: (1) General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) tended to be generated in large states with standardized languages following transition to pluralistic political systems; (2) GPTs in turn generated spillovers for their regions in technologies where cooperation was necessary to integrate distinct fields of expertise; (3) however, GPTs discouraged downstream innovation in their regions where such direct cooperation was not required.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2010-11.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-11

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Keywords: General Purpose Technologies; Industrial Revolution; innovation; cooperation; spillovers Length 38 pages;

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  1. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1995. "General Purpose Technologies "Engines of Growth?"," NBER Working Papers 4148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brenner, Thomas & Witt, Ulrich, 2003. "Melioration learning in games with constant and frequency-dependent pay-offs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 429-448, April.
  3. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  4. Ulrich Blum & Leonard Dudley, 2001. "Religion and economic growth: was Weber right?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 207-230, February.
  5. Allen, Robert C., 2009. "The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(04), pages 901-927, December.
  6. Nuvolari, A., 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series 04.02, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS).
  7. Lipsey, Richard G. & Carlaw, Kenneth I. & Bekar, Clifford T., 2005. "Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long-Term Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199290895.
  8. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, October.
  9. Petra Moser & Tom Nicholas, 2004. "Was Electricity a General Purpose Technology? Evidence from Historical Patent Citations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 388-394, May.
  10. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
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