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The coevolution of industries and national institutions: Theory and evidence


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  • Murmann, J. Peter


A survey across space and time reveals that leading firms operating in global industries often cluster in one or a few countries. The paper argues that nations differ in how successful they are in a particular industry because coevolutionary processes linking a particular industry and national institutions powerfully shape the path of an industry.s development. Across a wide range of contexts, scientific progress and industrial leadership reinforce each other in spirals of cumulative national advantage. A historical case study of synthetic dyes from 1857 to 1914 provides a dramatic example of how these positive feedback processes gave German organic chemistry and German dye firms a dominant position in the world. Over time, the relative strength of a nation in a particular industry and the capability of the country in a relevant scientific or engineering discipline display a strong positive correlation. Additional shorter case studies of agriculture, packaged software, and biotechnology support this induced hypothesis. We argue that the exchange of personnel between industry and academic institutions, the formation of commercial ties between them, lobbying on each other.s behalf and direct support from state agencies constitute causal mechanisms that can explain why successful firms often cluster in particular countries. -- Die führenden Unternehmen eines Industriezweiges konzentrieren sich, obwohl sie auf einem internationalen oder globalen Markt agieren, oft nur in einer eng begrenzten Anzahl von Ländern . oder in nur einem Land. Auf der Grundlage verschiedener Fallstudien werden in diesem Artikel spezifische Verknüpfungen von Industrie und national geprägter Wissenschaftslandschaft aufgezeigt, die in einem Prozess enger gegenseitiger Einflussnahme zu einer jeweils herausragenden . dominanten . wirtschaftlichen Position führten. Die Untersuchung der internationalen Dominanz Deutschlands auf dem Gebiet der Herstellung synthetischer Farbstoffe vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg zeigt eine starke positive Wechselwirkung zwischen der Forschung auf dem Gebiet der organischen Chemie und der Marktstellung der farbstoffproduzierenden Unternehmen. Der Aufstieg bedeutender Unternehmen wie Bayer, BASF und Hoechst steht dabei über personellen Austausch, kommerzielle Beziehungen und gemeinsames Lobbying in so enger Verbindung zu den relevanten akademischen Institutionen und ihrer Entwicklung, daß von einem koevolutionären Prozess gesprochen werden kann. Eine derartige positive Korrelation und ein daraus entstehender spezifischer Vorteil wird durch die Betrachtung des Marktes für Computer-Software oder des derzeit vieldiskutierten Bereichs der Biotechnologie untermauert.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, various Research Units with number FS IV 02-14.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbdiv:fsiv0214

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Keywords: Industry evolution; national institution; science-industry interface;

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  1. Richard N. Langlois & David C. Mowery, 1995. "The Federal Government Role in the Development of the American Software Industry: An Assessment," Industrial Organization, EconWPA 9503001, EconWPA.
  2. Olmstead, Alan L., 1999. "Biological Innovation And American Agricultural Development," 1999 Conference (43th), January 20-22, 1999, Christchurch, New Zealand, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society 124504, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
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Cited by:
  1. Sotarauta, Markku & Srinivas, Smita, 2006. "Co-evolutionary policy processes: Understanding innovative economies and future resilience," MPRA Paper 52689, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Dutrénit, gabriela & Capdevielle, Mario & Corona, Juan Manuel & Puchet, Martin & Santiago, Fernando & Vera-Cruz, Alexandre, 2010. "El sistema nacional de innovación mexicano: estructuras, políticas, desempeño y desafíos
    [The Mexican national innovation system: structures, policies, performance and challenges]
    ," MPRA Paper 31982, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Mendona, Sandro, 2009. "Brave old world: Accounting for 'high-tech' knowledge in 'low-tech' industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 470-482, April.


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