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Catching-up and falling behind: knowledge spillover from American to German machine tool makers

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  • Richter, Ralf
  • Streb, Jochen

Abstract

In our days, German machine tool makers accuse their Chinese competitors of violating patent rights and illegally imitating German technology. A century ago, however, German machine tool makers used exactly the same methods to imitate American technology. To understand the dynamics of this catching-up process we use patent statistics to analyze firms' activities between 1877 and 1932. We show that German machine tool makers successfully deployed imitating and counterfeiting activities in the late 19th century and the 1920s to catchup to their American competitors. The German administration supported this strategy by stipulating a patent law that discriminated against foreign patent holders and probably also by delaying the granting of patents to foreign applicants. Parallel to the growing international competitiveness of German firms, however, the willingness to guarantee intellectual property rights of foreigners was also increasing because German firms had now to fear retaliatory measures in their own export markets when violating foreign property rights within Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Richter, Ralf & Streb, Jochen, 2009. "Catching-up and falling behind: knowledge spillover from American to German machine tool makers," FZID Discussion Papers 09-2009, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fziddp:200909
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kirsten Labuske & Jochen Streb, 2008. "Technological Creativity and Cheap Labour? Explaining the Growing International Competitiveness of German Mechanical Engineering before World War I," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 65-86, February.
    2. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
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    5. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Pakes, Ariel S, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 755-784, July.
    7. Streb, Jochen & Wallusch, Jacek & Yin, Shuxi, 2007. "Knowledge spill-over from new to old industries: The case of German synthetic dyes and textiles (1878-1913)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 203-223, April.
    8. Jochen Streb & Jörg Baten & Shuxi Yin, 2006. "Technological and geographical knowledge spillover in the German empire 1877-1918," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(2), pages 347-373, May.
    9. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oliver Falck & Christina Guenther & Stephan Heblich & William R. Kerr, 2013. "From Russia with love: the impact of relocated firms on incumbent survival," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 419-449, May.
    2. B. Zorina Khan, 2014. "Of Time and Space: Technological Spillovers among Patents and Unpatented Innovations during Early U.S. Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 20732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Joost Veenstra & Herman de Jong, 2015. "A Tale of Two Tails: Plant Size Variation and Comparative Labor Productivity in U.S. and German Manufacturing in the Early 20th Century," CEH Discussion Papers 032, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    5. Cristiano Andrea Ristuccia & Adam Tooze, 2013. "Machine tools and mass production in the armaments boom: Germany and the United States, 1929–44," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(4), pages 953-974, November.
    6. repec:kap:jecgro:v:22:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10887-017-9141-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alexandra Semrad, 2015. "Modern secondary education and economic performance: the introduction of the Gewerbeschule and Realschule in nineteenth-century Bavaria," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1306-1338, November.
    8. Makiko Hino & Mototsugu Fukushige, 2014. "Catching up and falling behind in technological progress: the experience of the textile and chemical industries in Italy between 1904 and 1937," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 14-14, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    9. Joerg Baten & Nicola Bianchi & Petra Moser, 2015. "Does Compulsory Licensing Discourage Invention? Evidence From German Patents After WWI," NBER Working Papers 21442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Saiz, Patricio & Amengual, Rafael, 2016. "Knowledge Disclosure, Patent Management, and the Four-Stroke Engine Business," Working Papers in Economic History 2016/02, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    11. Santos LÓPEZ-LEYVA & Miriam Liliana CASTILLO-ARCE & José David LEDEZMA-TORRES & Jesús Armando RÍOS-FLORES, 2014. "Economic Growth from a Theoretical Perspective of Knowledge Economy: An Empirical Analysis for Mexico," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 2(5), pages 217-239, August.
    12. Baten, Joerg & Bianchi, Nicola & Moser, Petra, 2017. "Compulsory licensing and innovation – Historical evidence from German patents after WWI," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 231-242.
    13. Sibylle Lehmann-Hasemeyer & Jochen Streb, 2016. "The Berlin Stock Exchange in Imperial Germany: A Market for New Technology?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3558-3576, November.
    14. Lehmann, Sibylle & Streb, Jochen, 2015. "The Berlin Stock Exchange in Imperial Germany – a Market for New Technology?," CEPR Discussion Papers 10558, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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