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Resistance to Technology Adoption: The Rise and Decline of Guilds

Author

Listed:
  • Klaus Desmet

    (Universidad Carlos III)

  • Stephen Parente

    (University of Illionis, Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the decision of a group of specialized workers to form a guild and block the adoption of a new technology that does not require their specialized input. The theory predicts an inverted-U relation between guilds and market size: for small markets, firm profits are insufficient to cover the fixed cost of adopting the new technology, and hence, specialized workers have no reason to form guilds; for intermediate sized markets, firm profits are large enough to cover the higher fixed costs, but not large enough to defeat workers' resistance, and so workers form guilds and block adoption; and for large markets, these profits are sufficiently large to overcome worker resistance and so guilds disband and the more productive technology diffuses throughout the economy. We show that this inverted-U relation between guilds and market size predicted by our theory exists in a dataset of Italian guilds from the 14th to the 19th century. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Desmet & Stephen Parente, 2014. "Resistance to Technology Adoption: The Rise and Decline of Guilds," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(3), pages 437-458, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:11-151
    DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2013.09.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dmitriy Veselov & Alexander Yarkin, 2015. "The Great Divergence Revisited: Industrialization, Inequality and Political Conflict in the Unified Growth Model," HSE Working papers WP BRP 118/EC/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    2. Desmet, Klaus & Greif, Avner & Parente, Stephen L., 2017. "Spatial Competition, Innovation and Institutions: The Industrial Revolution and the Great Divergence," CEPR Discussion Papers 11976, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Veselov, D. & Yarkin, A., 2016. "Wealth Distribution and Political Conflict in the Model of Transition from Stagnation to Growth," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 30-60.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Technology adoption; Resistance to technology; Guilds; Market size; Special interest groups; Industrial Revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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