The Rise of the Engineer: Inventing the Professional Inventor During the Industrial Revolution
Why was the Industrial Revolution successful at generating sustained growth? Some have argued that there was a fundamental change in the way that new technology was developed during this period, but evidence for this argument remains largely anecdotal. This paper provides direct quantitative evidence showing that how innovation and design work was done changed fundamentally during the Industrial Revolution. This change was characterized by the professionalization of innovation and design work through the emergence of the engineering profession. I also propose a theory describing how this change could have acted as one mechanism behind the transition to modern economic growth.
I thank Brian Beach, Asaf Bernstein, James Feigenbaum, James Fenske, Michela Giorcelli, Daniel Gross, Philip Hoffman, Anton Howes, Morgan Kelly, David Mitch, Joel Mokyr, Petra Moser, Alessandro Nuvolari, Kevin O'Rourke, Santiago P\'erez, Michael Peters, Sarah Quincy, Vasily Rusanov, Mike Waugh, Chenzi Xu, Ariell Zimran and seminar participants at NYU Stern, Northwestern and the Virtual Economic History Seminar for helpful comments. I am grateful to Sean Bottomley, Stephen Billington, Carl Hallmann, Petra Moser, Alessandro Nuvolari, Lukas Rosenberg, and Emre Yavuz for their willingness to share data with me. Jessica Moses, Rachel Norsby and Liliya Shumylyak provided excellent research assistance. Funding for this project was provided by the NYU Stern Center for Global Economy and Business and by National Science Foundation CAREER Grant No. 1552692. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Why the Industrial Revolution succeeded in generating sustained economic growth has long been a subject of analysis and discussion....