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Alternative Paths of Learning: Standardisation and Growth in Britain, 1901-2009

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Abstract

This paper considers the contribution of voluntary consensus based standards, as developed through the British Standards Institution (BSI), to collective learning and productivity growth in Britain. It discusses the pivotal contribution of professional engineers to the establishment of a committee based national standards setting body that developed an important model of consensus standardisation. This model was imitated into new areas at home and overseas. We argue that by 1931 the catalogue of BSI standards represented a considerable stock of codifed knowledge whose growth reflected that of underlying aggregate technological advance. This claim is validated by its successful incorporation into an econometric model that suggests that this mode of standardisation has made a significant contribution to productivity growth in Britain.

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  • Christopher Spencer & Paul Temple, 2012. "Alternative Paths of Learning: Standardisation and Growth in Britain, 1901-2009," Discussion Paper Series 2012_10, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Oct 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:lbo:lbowps:2012_10
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    standards; technological change; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • L52 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes

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