IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

An institutional theory investigation of U.S. technology development trends since the mid-19th century

  • Pattit, Jason M.
  • Raj, S.P.
  • Wilemon, David
Registered author(s):

    Drawing on institutional theory, we examine how institutions have influenced technology development trends in the U.S. since the mid-19th century. Based on an inductive analysis of the history of technology development and corporate R&D, we show that both formal and informal institutional rules and constraints played a role in the initial rise of markets for technology, their decline during the early-20th century, and their eventual return at the end of the 20th century. We also find that formal and informal institutions influenced the widespread adoption of in-house R&D labs during the mid-20th century. Our study integrates insights from both the economics and sociology branches of institutional theory. This perspective is particularly useful to analyze historical phenomenon and shifts in trends across long time periods.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 306-318

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:2:p:306-318
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Samuel Kortum & Josh Lerner, 2000. "Assessing the Contribution of Venture Capital to Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 674-692, Winter.
    2. Aya S. Chacar & William Hesterly, 2008. "Institutional settings and rent appropriation by knowledge-based employees: the case of Major League Baseball," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2-3), pages 117-136.
    3. Richard N. Langlois, 2002. "The Vanishing Hand: the Changing Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism," Working papers 2002-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    4. Richard Nelson, 1962. "The Link Between Science and Invention: The Case of the Transistor," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 549-584 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Sine, Wesley D. & David, Robert J., 2003. "Environmental jolts, institutional change, and the creation of entrepreneurial opportunity in the US electric power industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 185-207, February.
    6. Lamoreaux, Naomi R., 1986. "Banks, Kinship, and Economic Development: The New England Case," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 647-667, September.
    7. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
    8. Steven Usselman, 1999. "Patents, Engineering Professionals, and the Pipelines of Innovation: The Internalization of Technical Discovery by Nineteenth-Century American Railroads," NBER Chapters, in: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries, pages 61-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1990. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 165-174, April.
    10. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 1998. "The Approach of Institutional Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 166-192, March.
    11. Dosi, Giovanni, 1982. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 147-162, June.
    12. Ingemar Dierickx & Karel Cool, 1989. "Asset Stock Accumulation and the Sustainability of Competitive Advantage: Reply," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1514-1514, December.
    13. Geels, Frank W., 2004. "From sectoral systems of innovation to socio-technical systems: Insights about dynamics and change from sociology and institutional theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6-7), pages 897-920, September.
    14. Oliver E. Williamson, 2000. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 595-613, September.
    15. Nelson, Richard R, 2001. " Observations on the Post-Bayh-Dole Rise of Patenting at American Universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 13-19, January.
    16. Hart, David M., 2001. "Antitrust and technological innovation in the US: ideas, institutions, decisions, and impacts, 1890-2000," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 923-936, June.
    17. Williamson, Oliver E, 1981. "The Modern Corporation: Origins, Evolution, Attributes," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1537-68, December.
    18. Mowery, David C., 1983. "Industrial Research and Firm Size, Survival, and Growth in American Manufacturing, 1921–1946: An Assessment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 953-980, December.
    19. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 1990. "Complementarity and External Linkages: The Strategies of the Large Firms in Biotechnology," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(4), pages 361-79, June.
    20. Barry Bozeman & Craig Boardman, 2004. "The NSF Engineering Research Centers and the University--Industry Research Revolution: A Brief History Featuring an Interview with Erich Bloch," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 29(3_4), pages 365-375, 08.
    21. Ingemar Dierickx & Karel Cool, 1989. "Asset Stock Accumulation and Sustainability of Competitive Advantage," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1504-1511, December.
    22. Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1997. "Location and Technological Change in the American Glass Industry During the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," NBER Working Papers 5938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Mowery, David C., 1992. "The U.S. national innovation system: Origins and prospects for change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 125-144, April.
    24. Arora, Ashish & Fosfuri, Andrea & Gambardella, Alfonso, 2001. "Markets for Technology and Their Implications for Corporate Strategy," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 419-51, June.
    25. Mowery, David C. & Nelson, Richard R. & Sampat, Bhaven N. & Ziedonis, Arvids A., 2001. "The growth of patenting and licensing by U.S. universities: an assessment of the effects of the Bayh-Dole act of 1980," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 99-119, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:2:p:306-318. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.