51 research outputs found

    The Spinning Jenny and the Guillotine: Technological Diffusion at the Time of Revolutions

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    Why was England the cradle of the Industrial Revolution? The present work shows that scale economies and demand, combined with the conditions of the relative prices of input factors, allow to provide a purely economic answer to this question. The labor-saving innovations of the Industrial Revolution were profitable only if, after their adoption, sales expanded enough to cover the upfront cost of capital. For some time, England was the only country in which sales exceeded the minimum threshold required to make adoption profitable. This fact is illustrated here by means of a detailed case study centered on the cotton industry and on the adoption of the spinning jenny in England and in France at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. By then, the sufficiently large and relatively well-off English middle class could guarantee to cotton spinners a level of sales that was not viable in France, where income was lower and more concentrated in the hands of the upper classes.Industrial Revolution, income distribution, economies of scale, choice of technique, spinning jenny

    What do firms know? What do they produce? A new look at the relationship between patenting profiles and patterns of product diversification

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    In this work we analyze the relationship between the patterns of firm diversification, if any, across product lines and across bodies of innovative knowledge, proxied by the patent classes where the firm is present. Putting it more emphatically we investigate the relationship between "what a firm does" and "what a firm knows". Using a newly developed dataset matching information on patents and products at the firm level, we provide evidence concerning firms' technological and product scope, their relationships, the size-scaling and coherence properties of diversification itself. Our analysis shows that typically firms are much more diversified in terms of products than in terms of technologies, with their main products more related to the exploitation of their innovative knowledge. The scaling properties show that the number of products and technologies increase log-linearly with firm size. And the directions of diversification themselves display coherence between neighboring activities also at relatively high degrees of diversification. These findings are well in tune with a capability-based theory of the firm

    Making one's own way: jumping ahead in the capability space and exporting among Indian firms

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    AbstractThis paper provides large scale evidence on the determinants of international competitiveness of Indian manufacturing firms, focusing in particular on the role of technology, costs and imported intermediate inputs. Our evidence suggests that innovation, in particular R&D investment, is positively related to both firms' probability to export and firms' export volumes. We also find that imported intermediate inputs, incorporating foreign technology is strongly associated with expanding export activities of firms. Finally, and in contrast to much of previous evidence on developed economies, we find that higher productivity or lower unit labour costs are not systematically associated with the probability to enter export markets, but they are positively related to higher export volumes. Overall our results point to the existence of a pattern of involvement in international trade for firms in developing countries that is not relying as a main driver on cost competitiveness

    For whom the bell tolls: The firm-level effects of automation on wage and gender inequality

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    This paper investigates the impact of investment in automation- and AI-related goods on within-firm wage inequality in the French economy during the 2002–2017 period. We document that most wage inequality in France is accounted for by differences among workers belonging to the same firm rather than by differences between sectors, firms, and occupations. Using an event-study approach on a sample of firms importing automation- and AI-related goods, we find that spike events related to the adoption of automation- and AI-related capital goods are not followed by an increase in within-firm wage inequality or in gender wage inequality. Instead, wages increase by 1% three years after the events at different percentiles of the distribution. Our findings are not linked to the rent-sharing behavior of firms obtaining productivity gains from automation and AI adoption. Instead, if wage gains do not differ across workers along the wage distribution, worker heterogeneity will still be present. Indeed, in agreement with the framework in Abowd et al. (1999b), most of the overall wage increase is due to the hiring of new employees. This adds to previous findings presenting a picture of a ‘labor friendly’ effect of the latest wave of new technologies within adopting firms

    Toward Formal Representations of Search Processes and Routines in Organizational Problem Solving: An Assessment of the State-of-the-Art

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    This paper presents a critical overview of some recent attempts at building formal models of organizations as information-processing and problem-solving entities. We distinguish between two classes of models according to two distinct objects of analysis. The first class includes models mainly addressing information processing and learning; the second class includes models focusing upon the relationship between the division of cognitive labor and search process in some problem-solving space. The results begin to highlight important comparative properties regarding the impact on problem-solving efficiency and learning of different forms of hierarchical governance, the dangers of lock-in associated with specific forms of adaptive learning, the relative role of online vs. offline learning, the impact of the cognitive maps which organizations embody, the possible trade-offs between accuracy and speed of convergence associated with different decomposition schemes, the (ambiguous) role of organizational memory in changing environments

    The Spinning Jenny and the Industrial Revolution: A Reappraisal

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