Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 445244
Title The Great Escape: Technological Lock-in vs Appropriate Technology in Early Twentieth Century British Manufacturing
Author(s) Woltjer, P.J.
Source Groningen : University of Groningen (GGDC Research Memorandum 141) - 59 p.
Department(s) Rural and Environmental History
Publication type Working paper aimed at scientific audience
Publication year 2013
Abstract America’s lead over Europe in manufacturing productivity from the late nineteenth century onwards has often been contributed to differences in initial conditions, trapping Europe in a relatively declining, labor-intensive and low-productive technological path. In this paper, I reassess the productivity dynamics in British manufacturing on the basis of a novel analytical framework by Basu and Weil that emphasizes the role of learning and localized technical change and which predicts convergence in light of rapid capital deepening. By means of a data envelopment analysis, I measure the effects of capital accumulation, technological change, and efficiency change. I find evidence for considerable increased capital-intensity levels in British manufacturing during the early twentieth century, particularly in the ‘new’ industries which actively began to adopt modern techniques of mass-production and managerial control. My findings seriously challenge the traditional, declinist, technological lock-in hypothesis. Instead, the British shift toward mass-production techniques during the interwar period provides a strong case for a remarkable escape from the labor-intensive path which had held the British manufacturing sector in its grasp throughout the nineteenth century.
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