119 research outputs found

    Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine

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    In this paper, we argue that together with individual inventors and firms, what Robert C. Allen (1983) has termed as collective invention settings (that is settings in which rival firms freely release each other pertinent technical information), were also a crucial source of innovation in the industrial revolution period. Until now, this has been very little considered in the literature. This paper focuses on one of these cases: the Cornish mining district. In Cornwall, during the early nineteenth century, a notable collective invention setting, gradually emerged. This case is particularly remarkable because it was capable of generating a continuous and sustained flow of improvements in steam pumping technology which in the end greatly contributed to improve the thermodynamic efficiency of the steam engine. In this paper we study in detail the specific economic circumstances that led to the formation of this collective invention setting and we analyses its consequences for the rate of technological innovationCollective inventions, information sharing, case study

    Knowledge Sharing among Inventors: Some Historical Perspectives

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    This chapter documents instances from past centuries where inventors freely shared knowledge of their innovations with other inventors. It is widely believed that such knowledge sharing is largely a recent development, as in open source software. Our survey shows, instead, that innovators have long practiced "collective invention", including in such key technologies as steam engines, iron and steel production and textile machinery. Generally, innovators? behavior was substantially richer than the heroic portrayal often found in textbooks and museums. Knowledge sharing sometimes coexisted with patenting, at other times, not, suggesting the importance of public policy that accommodates knowledge sharing to foster cumulative innovation.technological change, knowledge sharing, collective invention, patents

    The Theory and Practice of Steam Engineering in Britain and in France, 1800-1850

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    A characterization of the different patterns of technological development of France and Britain in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century which has been frequently put forward considers French engineers and scientists involved in the formulation and discovery of theoretical and general principles, whereas their British counterparts were mainly working using “rules of thumbs” and other similar forms of empirical know-how. At least, prima facie, the case of steam engineering seems to fit this broad characterization rather well. In this paper we provide a reconsideration of the different nature of French and British practices in steam engineering. Our study shows, that the different economic circumstances prevailing in Britain and France (in particular the price of coal) led the two countries to embark to different paths of accumulation of “useful knowledge” in the field of steam engineering.La caractĂ©risation des modĂšles de dĂ©veloppement technologique en Grande-Bretagne et en France Ă  la fin du XVIIIe siĂšcle et au dĂ©but du XIXe siĂšcle repose largement sur l’idĂ©e que les ingĂ©nieurs et savants français se sont impliquĂ©s dans la dĂ©couverte et la formulation de principes thĂ©oriques et gĂ©nĂ©raux, alors que ceux anglais utilisaient des astuces et autres formes de savoir-faire empirique. Du moins, Ă  premiĂšre vue, le cas de la vapeur semble Ă©pouser assez bien cette distinction. Dans cet article, nous proposons de reconsidĂ©rer la nature des pratiques françaises et anglaises dans les techniques de la vapeur. Notre Ă©tude montre que les circonstances Ă©conomiques diffĂ©rentes existant en Grande-Bretagne et en France (en particulier le prix du charbon) ont conduit les deux pays Ă  choisir des voies diffĂ©rentes d’« accumulation du savoir » dans le domaine des techniques de la vapeur

    Patents and Industrialization: An Historical Overview of the British Case, 1624-1907 w

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    The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the research on the role played by patent systems in the industrialization process (with a special focus on the British case). Perhaps surprisingly, no consensus has been reached yet as to whether the emergence of modern patent systems exerted a favourable impact on inventive activities. However, the recent literature has shed light on a number of fundamental factors which affect the links between inventive activities and the patent system. The concluding section of the paper outlines some "history lessons" for the current debate on the role of patent in economic development.patents, innovation, Industrial Revolution, economic growth

    Inventive Activities, Patents and Early Industrialization. A Synthesis of Research Issues

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    The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of recent research on the role of patent systems in the early phases of industrialization. Perhaps surprisingly, no consensus has been reached yet as to whether the emergence of modern patent systems exerted a favourable impact on inventive activities. However, the recent literature has shed light on a number of fundamental factors which affect the links between inventive activities and the patent system. The concluding section of the paper outlines some "history lessons" for the current debate on the role of Intellectual Property Rights in economic development.
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