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Location and Technological Change in the American Glass Industry During the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

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  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux
  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Abstract

Scholars have attempted to explain geographic clustering in inventive activity by arguing that it is connected with clustering in production or new investment. They have offered three possible reasons for this link: because invention occurs as a result of learning by doing; because new investment encourages experimentation with novel techniques; and because there are local information flows that make inventors more fertile in areas where producers are concentrated. In this article we test these theories by studying geographic patterns of production and invention in the glass industry during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We find that the patterns deviate significantly from what the theories would predict, and offer the alternative hypothesis that inventive activity proceeded most intensively in areas where markets for technology had developed most fully that is, where there were localized networks of institutions that mobilized information about technological opportunities and mediated relations among inventors, suppliers of capital, and those who would commercially develop or exploit new technologies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5938.

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Date of creation: Feb 1997
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Publication status: published as as "The Geography of Invention in the American Glass Industry, 1870 1925" Journal of Economic History, Volume: 60 Issue: 03 (September 2000) Pages: 700-729
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5938

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  1. Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 1988. "Inventive Activity in Early Industrial America: Evidence From Patent Records, 1790–1846," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 813-850, December.
  2. Young, Alwyn, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 369-405, May.
  3. Alwyn Young, 1991. "Learning by Doing and the Dynamic Effects of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 3577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. 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).
  2. Beaudry, Catherine & Allaoui, Sedki, 2012. "Impact of public and private research funding on scientific production: The case of nanotechnology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(9), pages 1589-1606.
  3. Mariani,Myriam, 1999. "Next to Production or to Technological Clusters? The Economics and Management of R&D Location," Research Memorandum 027, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  4. repec:hal:journl:hal-00424183 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Catherine Beaudry & Stefano Breschi, 2000. "Does 'Clustering' really help firms'innovative activities?," KITeS Working Papers 111, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jul 2000.
  6. Pattit, Jason M. & Raj, S.P. & Wilemon, David, 2012. "An institutional theory investigation of U.S. technology development trends since the mid-19th century," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 306-318.
  7. Marie Ferru, 2010. "Formation and geography of science-industry collaborations: the case of the University of Poitiers," Post-Print hal-00461262, HAL.

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