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General Purpose Technologies and the Industrial Revolution

  • Leonard Dudley

Did breakthroughs in core processes during the Industrial Revolution tend to generate further innovations in downstream technologies? Here a theoretical model examines the effect of a political shock on a non-innovating society in which there is high potential willingness to cooperate. The result is regional specialization in the innovation process by degree of cooperation. tests with a zero-inflated Poisson specification indicate that 116 important innovations between 1700 and 1849 may be grouped into three categories: (1) General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) tended to be generated in large states with standardized languages following transition to pluralistic political systems; (2) GPTs in turn generated spillovers for their regions in technologies where cooperation was necessary to integrate distinct fields of expertise; (3) however, GPTs discouraged downstream innovation in their regions where such direct cooperation was not required.

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Paper provided by Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2010-11.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-11
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  1. Alessandro Nuvolari, 2001. "Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine," DRUID Working Papers 01-05, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  2. 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, December.
  3. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  4. Petra Moser, 2003. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World Fairs," NBER Working Papers 9909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Blum, U. & Dudley, L., 2001. "Religion and Economic Growth: Was Weber Right?," Cahiers de recherche 2001-05, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en ├ęconomie quantitative, CIREQ.
  6. Robert Allen & Robert C. Allen, 2007. "The Industrial Revolution in Miniature: The Spinning Jenny in Britain, France, and India," Economics Series Working Papers 375, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Leonard Dudley & Ulrich Blum, 2001. "Religion and economic growth: was Weber right?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 207-230.
  8. Brenner, Thomas & Witt, Ulrich, 2003. "Melioration learning in games with constant and frequency-dependent pay-offs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 429-448, April.
  9. 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.
  10. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
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