NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Learning-by-Producing and the Geographic Links Between Invention and Production: Experience From the Second Industrial Revolution

Dhanoos Sutthiphisal

NBER Working Paper No. 12469
Issued in August 2006
NBER Program(s):   DAE   PR

This paper investigates the impact of ¡§learning-by-producing¡¨ on inventive activity and shows that, in both emerging (electrical equipment and supplies) and maturing (shoes and textiles) industries, the geographic association between invention and production was rather weak during the Second Industrial Revolution. Regional shifts in production were neither accompanied nor followed by corresponding increases in invention. Instead, this paper finds that the geographic location of inventive activity tended to mirror the geographic distribution of individuals with advanced technical skills appropriate to the particular industry in question. Even in the craft-based shoe industry, much of the invention came from those with the advanced technical skills. The findings suggest that scholars have over-emphasized the importance of learning-by-producing in accounting for the geographic differences in inventive activity, and underestimated the significance of technical skills or human capital amongst the population.

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Published: Sutthiphisal, Dhanoos. "The Geography Of Invention In High- And Low-Technology Industries: Evidence From The Second Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History, 2006, v66(2,Jun), 492-496.

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