Which actors drove national patterns of technological specialization into the science-based age? The British experience, 1918-1932

Cantwell, John and Spadavecchia, Anna (2022) Which actors drove national patterns of technological specialization into the science-based age? The British experience, 1918-1932. Industrial and Corporate Change. ISSN 0960-6491 (In Press)

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Abstract

This article assesses the contributions of industry leaders, smaller corporations and independent inventors to the international technological specialization of Great Britain in the interwar years. For the first time we compare directly the contribution of these sources, and combine the Chandlerian and 'sources of invention' perspectives. The analysis is based on a novel dataset of more than 8,000 patents granted in the USA to British inventions. Our findings show the extent to which Britain integrated inventions generated by independent inventors with those of corporate inventors, i.e. industry leaders and smaller corporations, in both engineering- and science-based fields. This research highlights specificities of a former leader’s transition from the technological paradigm of the first phase of capitalism to that of the second phase.