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General Purpose Technologies

In: Handbook of the Economics of Innovation

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  • Bresnahan, Timothy

Abstract

This chapter selectively surveys the literature on general purpose technologies (GPTs), focusing on incentives and aggregate growth implications. The literature on classical GPTs (steam, electricity, computers) and on classical great economic transformations (industrial revolutions, the information age) are linked to the theoretical and empirical literatures. The implications of GPT analysis for understanding the history of productivity growth in the late twentieth century are taken up on the concluding remarks.

Suggested Citation

  • Bresnahan, Timothy, 2010. "General Purpose Technologies," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 761-791, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:haechp:v2_761
    DOI: 10.1016/S0169-7218(10)02002-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    3. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2004. "Was 19th century British growth steam-powered?: the climacteric revisited," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 156-171, April.
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    8. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
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    12. Petra Moser & Tom Nicholas, 2004. "Was Electricity a General Purpose Technology? Evidence from Historical Patent Citations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 388-394, May.
    13. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2002. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization, and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 339-376.
    14. Lipsey, Richard G. & Carlaw, Kenneth I. & Bekar, Clifford T., 2005. "Economic Transformations: General Purpose Technologies and Long-Term Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199290895.
    15. Andrew Atkeson & Patrick J. Kehoe, 2007. "Modeling the Transition to a New Economy: Lessons from Two Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 64-88, March.
    16. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360.
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    19. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rousseau, Peter L., 2005. "General Purpose Technologies," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 18, pages 1181-1224, Elsevier.
    20. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt, 2002. "Wage Inequality and the New Economy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(3), pages 306-323.
    21. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kreuchauff, Florian & Teichert, Nina, 2014. "Nanotechnology as general purpose technology," Working Paper Series in Economics 53, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Management.
    2. Dosi, Giovanni & Nelson, Richard R., 2010. "Technical Change and Industrial Dynamics as Evolutionary Processes," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 51-127, Elsevier.
    3. Coccia, Mario, 2015. "General sources of general purpose technologies in complex societies: Theory of global leadership-driven innovation, warfare and human development," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 199-226.
    4. Foray, D. & Raffo, J., 2014. "The emergence of an educational tool industry: Opportunities and challenges for innovation in education," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(10), pages 1707-1715.
    5. Wang, Yao & Li, Jie, 2017. "ICT’s effect on trade: Perspective of comparative advantage," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 96-99.
    6. Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Leiponen, Aija & Thomas, Llewellyn D W, 2017. "Invention Machines: How Control Instruments and Information Technologies Drove Global Technologigal Progress over a Century of Invention," ETLA Working Papers 52, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    7. Stucki, Tobias & Woerter, Martin, 2019. "The private returns to knowledge: A comparison of ICT, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, and green technologies," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 62-81.
    8. Sergio Petralia, 2020. "Mapping General Purpose Technologies with Patent Data," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2027, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jul 2020.
    9. Liu, Yong & Du, Jun-liang & Yang, Jin-bi & Qian, Wu-yong & Forrest, Jeffrey Yi-Lin, 2019. "An incentive mechanism for general purpose technologies R&D based on the concept of super-conflict equilibrium: Empirical evidence from nano industrial technology in China," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 185-197.
    10. Liu, Runjuan & Rosell, Carlos, 2013. "Import competition, multi-product firms, and basic innovation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 220-234.
    11. Coccia, Mario, 2018. "A Theory of the General Causes of Long Waves: War, General Purpose Technologies, and Economic Change," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 287-295.
    12. Pereira, Joana & Tavalaei, M. Mahdi & Ozalp, Hakan, 2019. "Blockchain-based platforms: Decentralized infrastructures and its boundary conditions," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 94-102.
    13. Kreuchauff, Florian & Korzinov, Vladimir, 2015. "A patent search strategy based on machine learning for the emerging field of service robotics," Working Paper Series in Economics 71, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Department of Economics and Management.
    14. Appio, Francesco Paolo & Martini, Antonella & Fantoni, Gualtiero, 2017. "The light and shade of knowledge recombination: Insights from a general-purpose technology," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 154-165.
    15. Cédric Gossart, 2021. "Digital technologies and education for the environment and sustainable development: the case of French associations [Numérique et éducation à l'environnement et au développement durable : le cas de," Working Papers hal-03189184, HAL.
    16. Petralia, Sergio, 2020. "Mapping general purpose technologies with patent data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(7).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    general purpose technology; innovation; technical change; L0; L1; O3;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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