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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Industrial Tinkerers

As do Joel and his coauthors. I've long wondered about the role of "mechanics" and other tinkerers - if you ask me why not the industrial revolution in Rome my answer would be: not enough of the low level tinkerers needed to make technology take off. I'm glad to see some careful research into this.

The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions by Ralf Meisenzahl, Joel Mokyr

Abstract:

During the Industrial Revolution technological progress and innovation became the main drivers of economic growth. But why was Britain the technological leader? We argue that one hitherto little recognized British advantage was the supply of highly skilled, mechanically able craftsmen who were able to adapt, implement, improve, and tweak new technologies and who provided the micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative. Using a sample of 759 of these mechanics and engineers, we study the incentives and institutions that facilitated the high rate of inventive activity during the Industrial Revolution. First, apprenticeship was the dominant form of skill formation. Formal education played only a minor role. Second, many skilled workmen relied on secrecy and first-mover advantages to reap the benefits of their innovations. Over 40 percent of the sample here never took out a patent. Third, skilled workmen in Britain often published their work and engaged in debates over contemporary technological and social questions. In short, they were affected by the Enlightenment culture. Finally, patterns differ for the textile sector; therefore, any inferences from textiles about the whole economy are likely to be misleading.

Also only a paywall copy.


Comments

What exactly is the point of the paywall?

Is any research funded by this? Or is the only purpose to separate science and 'the general public' ?


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