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Intermediary Functions and the Market for Innovation in Meiji and TaishÅ Japan


  • Nicholas, Tom
  • Shimizu, Hiroshi


Japan experienced a transformational phase of technological development during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We argue that an important, but so far neglected, factor was a developing market for innovation and a patent-attorney system that was conducive to rapid technical change. We support our hypothesis using patent data and we also present a detailed case study on TomogorÅ Ono, a key developer of salt-production technology who used attorneys in connection with his patenting work at a time when Japan was still in the process of formally institutionalizing its patent-attorney system. In accordance with Lamoreaux and Sokoloff's 1999 influential study of trade in invention in the United States, our quantitative and qualitative evidence highlights how inventors and intermediaries in Japan interacted to create a market for new ideas.

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  • Nicholas, Tom & Shimizu, Hiroshi, 2013. "Intermediary Functions and the Market for Innovation in Meiji and TaishÅ Japan," Business History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(1), pages 121-149, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:buhirw:v:87:y:2013:i:01:p:121-149_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2015. "Independent invention in Italy during the Liberal Age, 1861–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 858-886, August.
    2. Zhenzhen Xie & Jiatao Li, 2018. "Exporting and innovating among emerging market firms: The moderating role of institutional development," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 49(2), pages 222-245, February.

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