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Scale versus Scope in the Diffusion of New Technology

Listed author(s):
  • Daniel P. Gross

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Strategy Unit)

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    Using the farm tractor as a case study, I show that lags in technology diffusion arise along two distinct margins: scale and scope. Though tractors are now used in nearly every agricultural field operation and in the production of nearly all crops, they first developed with much more limited application, and early diffusion was accordingly limited in scope until tractor technology generalized. The results are consistent with theory and other historical examples, suggesting that the key to understanding technology diffusion lies not only in explaining the number of different users, but also in explaining the number of different uses.

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    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/pages/download.aspx?name=16-108.pdf
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    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 16-108.

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    Length: 66 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2016
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:16-108
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    8. Pascaline Dupas, 2014. "Short‐Run Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence From a Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 197-228, 01.
    9. Comin, D. & Hobijn, B., 2004. "Cross-country technology adoption: making the theories face the facts," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 39-83, January.
    10. Martini, Dinah Duffy & Silberberg, Eugene, 2006. "The Diffusion of Tractor Technology," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 354-389, June.
    11. Olmstead, Alan L., 1975. "The Mechanization of Reaping and Mowing in American Agriculture, 1833–1870," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(02), pages 327-352, June.
    12. Munshi, Kaivan, 2004. "Social learning in a heterogeneous population: technology diffusion in the Indian Green Revolution," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 185-213, February.
    13. Alston, Lee J., 1983. "Farm Foreclosures in the United States During the Interwar Period," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 885-903, December.
    14. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
    15. Warren C. Whatley, 1985. "A History of Mechanization in the Cotton South: The Institutional Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1191-1215.
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