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'Schemes of Practical Utility': Entrepreneurship and Innovation Among 'Great Inventors' in the United States, 1790-1865

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  • B. Zorina Khan
  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Abstract

The growth in inventive activity during early American industrialization is explored by examining the careers of 160 inventors credited with important technological discoveries. Analysis of biographical information and complete patent histories through 1865 indicates that these 'great inventors' were entrepreneurial and responded systematically to market demand. Their inventions were procyclical and originated disproportionately from localities linked with extensive markets. Although not exceptional in terms of schooling or technical skills, they vigorously pursued the returns to their inventions, redirected their inventive activity to meet emerging needs, and were distinguished by high geographical mobility towards districts conducive to invention.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0042.

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Date of creation: Oct 1992
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Publication status: published as Journal of Economic History, vo. 53, no. 2, pp. 289-307
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0042

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Cited by:
  1. Roberto Fontana & Alessandro Nuvolari & Hiroshi Shimizu & Andrea Vezzulli, 2013. "Reassessing patent propensity: evidence from a data-set of R&D awards 1977-2004," Working Papers Department of Economics 2013/09, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  2. Schwerin, Joachim & Werker, Claudia, 2003. "Learning innovation policy based on historical experience," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 385-404, December.

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