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Technological Change, Market Rivalry, and the Evolution of the Capitalist Engine of Growth


  • Peretto, Pietro F


In the early stages of Western industrialization, innovation was the domain of individuals who devoted their entrepreneurial talents to the development of a new product or process, typically setting up a new firm in order to take the innovation to the market. Today, commercial R&D is almost exclusively carried out by corporate laboratories affiliated with manufacturing firms. The corporate R&D lab, however, did not exist in its modern form until the late nineteenth century. The history of Western industrialization, thus, suggests that a fundamental change in the structure of incentives, and consequently in the nature and the organization of the R&D process, occurred around the turn of the century. Three questions arise. What is the nature of this change? What economic forces caused it? What are its implications? To answer these questions, I construct a model where this change is endogenous to the evolution of the economy toward industrial maturity. The change in the locus of innovation--from R&D undertaken by inventor-entrepreneurs, to R&D undertaken within established firms in close proximity to the production line--results from the interaction of market structure and technological change. This interaction captures the essence of the evolution of the capitalist engine of growth and provides an economic explanation of a "stylized fact" that has received no attention in the theoretical literature. The endogenous market structure generates dynamic feedbacks that shape the growth path of the economy and determine the structural change it undergoes, including the endogenous formation of corporate R&D labs. The evolution of market rivalry explains when and how established firms become the major locus of R&D activity. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Peretto, Pietro F, 1998. "Technological Change, Market Rivalry, and the Evolution of the Capitalist Engine of Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 53-80, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:3:y:1998:i:1:p:53-80

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abel, Andrew B, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching Up with the Joneses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 38-42, May.
    2. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "Habit formation in consumer preferences: evidence from panel data," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 143, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    5. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
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    7. John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane, 1994. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," CRSP working papers 412, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
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    10. Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Poor, Relatively Speaking," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 153-169, July.
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    12. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    JEL classification:

    • E10 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - General
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General


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