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Veblen on the machine process and technological change


  • John Latsis


This paper explores Veblen's analysis of technological change. I claim that, rather than succumbing to the traditional criticisms, his approach founders due to his failure to fully articulate a social ontology. Whilst Veblen's analysis of his own time remains in many ways compelling, this failure creates a gap between meta-theoretical promise and current theoretical results. I show how work in the social studies of technology has successfully avoided the ontological problems associated with Veblenian economics. This success is tempered by the fact that the field has not yet provided an appropriate framework to systematise the ways in which technical innovations transform social relations in ways that are beyond conscious control and manipulation. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

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  • John Latsis, 2010. "Veblen on the machine process and technological change," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 601-615.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:34:y:2010:i:4:p:601-615

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Jean-François Hennart & Jorma Larimo, 1998. "The Impact of Culture on the Strategy of Multinational Enterprises: Does National Origin Affect Ownership Decisions?," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 29(3), pages 515-538, September.
    6. Nathan ROSENBERG, 2009. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Studies On Science And The Innovation Process Selected Works of Nathan Rosenberg, chapter 11, pages 225-234 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    7. Davidson, W H & McFetridge, Donald G, 1984. "International Technology Transactions and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 253-264, March.
    8. Zejan, Mario C, 1990. "New Ventures of Acquisitions. The Choice of Swedish Multinational Enterprises," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 349-355, March.
    9. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
    10. 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 361-379, June.
    11. Bureth, Antoine & Wolff, Sandrine & Zanfei, Antonello, 1997. "The two faces of learning by cooperating: The evolution and stability of inter-firm agreements in the European electronics industry," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 519-537, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Felipe Almeida, 2016. "Society and brain: A complementary approach to Thorstein Veblen’s conspicuous consumer based on Tibor Scitovsky’s neuropsychology [Society and brain: A complementary approach to Thorstein Veblen’s con," Nova Economia, Economics Department, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil), vol. 26(2), pages 347-367, May-Augus.

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