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Crossover Inventions And Knowledge Diffusion Of General Purpose Technologies? Evidence From The Electrical Technology


  • Shih-tse Lo
  • Dhanoos Sutthiphisal


Scholars have long noted the significant impact of general purpose technologies (GPTs) on the economy. However, limited attention has been paid to exploring how they are employed to generate inventions in downstream sectors (crossover inventions), and what factors may facilitate such diffusion. We study these issues by examining the introduction of one of the widely regarded GPTs -- electrical technology -- in the late 19th century U.S. We find that knowledge spillovers between industries (inter-industry spillovers and learning-by-using) had little influence on the geography of crossover inventions as well as the speed and productivity of inventors at making them. Instead, appropriate human capital and an environment promoting inventions in general played a more important role.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14043
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelstätter, Benjamin & Sarbu, Miruna, 2011. "The adoption of social enterprise software," ZEW Discussion Papers 11-078, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Badibanga, Thaddee Mutumba & Diao, Xinshen & Roe, Terry L. & Somwaru, Agapi, 2008. "Dynamics of Structural Transformation: Understanding the Key Factors That Drive Innovative Activities in Selected Asian and African Countries," Bulletins 43890, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.

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    JEL classification:

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

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