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The Localisation Of Corporate Technological Trajectories In The Interwar Cartels: Cooperative Learning Versus An Exchange Of Knowledge

By John Cantwell and Pllar Barrera

Abstract

By itself, an exchange of knowledge between complementary activities is inadequate to bring the localised technological specialisation of firms closer together, but cooperative 1earning tends to like the technological profile of partner companies more closely cornplementary Interwar cartels in the electrical equipment industry were restricted to an exchange of knowledge at the corporate group level, but in chemicals they sometimes included cooperative Learning. US patent data for the interwar period arc used to construct a measure of the pattern of the localised technological trajectories of the largest US and European firms. Cartels had a limited impact on the overall level of research or the propensity to patent ar the corporate group level. hut cooperative learning made the technological trajectories of chemical firms more similar or closely complementry. Instend. electrical equipment firms became more localised in their learning, paths, by separating products while exchanging knowledge between activities that remained complementary. The findings are relevant to the study of current technological cooperation through inter-firm alliances.History of technology, cartels, alliances, innovation, corporate technological specialisation, J.E.L. Clnssification: 033, 034, 038, Ll I, L13, L63, L65,

DOI identifier: 10.1080/10438599800000022
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