IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/h/nbr/nberch/10229.html
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Inventors, Firms, and the Market for Technology in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

In: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries

Author

Listed:
  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux
  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Abstract

Recent scholarly literature explains the spread of in-house research labs during the early 20th century by pointing to the information problems involved in contracting for technology. We argue that these difficulties have been overemphasized and that in fact a substantial trade in patented inventions developed over the course of the 19th century, much of it the form of transactions conducted at arms-length through the market. This expansion of trade in technology made possible a growing division of labor, as inventors increasingly took advantage of their greater ability to sell of rights to patented technologies and focused their energy and resources on invention itself. Firms responded to the expansion of this trade by developing ways to to learn about and assess externally generated inventions. Although large firms were beginning to invest in their internal inventive capabilities, in doing so they faced many significant problems. They had to overcome resistance to contracts requiring employees to sign over patents to their employers, and they had to reduce the high turnover rates that made such requirements effectively unenforceable. The increased costs of inventive activity and the greater risks borne by independent inventors by the early 20th century helped firms make their case. But there was a lot of organizational learning to do. Hence where other scholars have emphasized the difficulties of contracting for technology in the market and the relative ease of integrating invention and production within the firm, we reverse the story. Economic actors at that time had a lot of experience contracting for new technological ideas in the market; what they had to spend a great deal of time and energy learning was managing creative individuals within the firm.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1999. "Inventors, Firms, and the Market for Technology in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," NBER Chapters,in: Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries, pages 19-60 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10229
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c10229.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sokoloff, Kenneth L. & Khan, B. Zorina, 1990. "The Democratization of Invention During Early Industrialization: Evidence from the United States, 1790–1846," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 363-378, June.
    2. Khan, B. Zorina, 1995. "Property Rights and Patent Litigation in Early Nineteenth-Century America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 58-97, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Dhanoos Sutthiphisal, 2008. "The Reorganization of Inventive Activity in the United States during the Early Twentieth Century," NBER Chapters,in: Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, pages 235-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Giovanni Guastella & Frank van Oort, 2011. "On specifying heterogeneity in knowledge production functions," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1114, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Ming Liu & Sumner la Croix, 2013. "A Cross-Country Index of Intellectual Property Rights in Pharmaceutical Innovations," Working Papers 201313, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    4. Kim, Sukkoo, 1999. "The Rise of Multiunit Firms in U.S. Manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 360-386, October.
    5. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco, 2001. "Knowledge Spillovers and Local Innovation Systems: A Critical Survey," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 975-1005, December.
    6. N. Lacetera & L. Zirulia, 2008. "Knowledge Spillovers, Competition, and R&D Incentive Contracts," Working Papers 624, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    7. Liu, Ming & La Croix, Sumner, 2015. "A cross-country index of intellectual property rights in pharmaceutical inventions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 206-216.
    8. Rosemarie Ziedonis & Carlos Serrano & Yael Hochberg, 2015. "Patent collateral, investor commitment, and the market for venture lending," 2015 Meeting Papers 1170, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Shih-tse Lo & Dhanoos Sutthiphisal, 2008. "Crossover Inventions And Knowledge Diffusion Of General Purpose Technologies? Evidence From The Electrical Technology," NBER Working Papers 14043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos J. Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent Collateral, Investor Commitment, and the Market for Venture Lending," NBER Working Papers 20587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rooij, Arjan van, 2005. "Why do firms acquire technology?: The example of DSM's ammonia plants, 1925-1970," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 836-851, August.
    12. B. Zorina Khan & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 2001. "The Early Development of Intellectual Property Institutions in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 233-246, Summer.
    13. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos J. Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent collateral investor commitment and the market for venture lending," Economics Working Papers 1448, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    14. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent Collateral, Investor Commitment, and the Market for Venture Lending," Working Papers 792, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    15. Lacetera, Nicola & Zirulia, Lorenzo, 2012. "Individual preferences, organization, and competition in a model of R&D incentive provision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 550-570.
    16. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 2010. "The Market for Technology," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    17. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos J. Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2015. "Patent collateral, investor commitment and the market for venture lending," Working Papers 1519, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    18. Sumner J La Croix & Denise Eby Konan, 2006. "Have Developing Countries Gained From the Marriage Between Trade Agreements and Intellectual Property Rights?," Working Papers 200605, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    19. Pénin, Julien, 2012. "Strategic uses of patents in markets for technology: A story of fabless firms, brokers and trolls," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 633-641.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10229. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.