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Smithian Growth Through Creative Organization

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  • Legros, Patrick

    (ECARES and CEPR)

  • Newman, Andrew F

    (Boston University and CEPR)

  • Proto, Eugenio

    (University of warwick)

Abstract

We consider a model in which appropriate organization fosters innovation, but because of contractibility problems, this benefit cannot be internalized. The organizational design element we focus on is the division of labor, which as Adam Smith argued, facilitates invention by observers of the production process. However, entrepreneurs choose its level only to facilitate monitoring their workers. Whether there is innovation depends on the interaction of the markets for labor and for inventions. A high level of specialization is chosen when the wage share is low. But low wage shares arise only when there are few entrepreneurs, which limits the market for innovations therefore and discourages inventive activity. When there are many entrepreneurs, the innovation market is large, but the rate of invention is low because there is little specialization. Rapid technological progress therefore requires a balance between these opposing e ects, which occurs with a moderate relative scarcity of entrepreneurs and workers. In a dynamic version of the model in which a credit constraint limits entry into entrepreneurship, this relative scarcity depends on the wealth distribution, which evolves endogenously. There is an inverted-U relation between growth rates driven by innovation and the level of inequality. Institutional improvements have ambiguous effects on growth. In light of the model, we offer a reassessment of the mechanism by which organizational innovations such as the factory may have spawned the industrial revolution. Key words: factory system ; industrial revolution ; technological change ; contracts

Suggested Citation

  • Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew F & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Smithian Growth Through Creative Organization," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 981, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:981
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    Cited by:

    1. Hiller, Victor, 2018. "Self-control and the rise and fall of factory discipline," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 187-200.
    2. Orman, Cuneyt, 2015. "Organization of innovation and capital markets," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 94-114.
    3. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Legros, Patrick & Zingales, Luigi (ed.), 2016. "The Impact of Incomplete Contracts on Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199826216.
    4. Garicano, Luis & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2012. "Organizing growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 623-656.
    5. Inci, Eren, 2013. "Occupational choice and the quality of entrepreneurs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 1-21.
    6. Andrew F. Newman & Patrick Legros, 2011. "Incomplete Contracts and Industrial Organization: A Survey," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-036, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    7. Stephen L. Parente & Klaus Desmet, 2008. "The Evolution of Markets and the Revolution of Industry," 2008 Meeting Papers 688, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Shingo Ishiguro, 2007. "Organizational Dynamics," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 07-14, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    9. Chen, Cheng, 2019. "Trade liberalization, agency problem and aggregate productivity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 421-442.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    factory system ; industrial revolution ; technological change ; contracts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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