Patterns of innovation during the industrial revolution: a reappraisal using composite indicators of patent quality

Dr. Alessandro Nuvolari, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies - Pisa

In this paper, we construct a new bibliographic indicator of patent quality for English patents granted in the period 1700-1850. The indicator is based on the relative visibility of each patent both in the contemporary legal and engineering literature and in modern authoritative works on the history of science and technology. The indicator permits to operationalize empirically the distinction between micro and macroinventions which has featured prominently in the recent debates on the origins of the industrial revolution. We test a number of conjectures on the characteristics of macroinventions in this crucial historical phase. Our preliminary findings are as follows: i) macroinventions did not exhibit time clustering, ii) macroinventions were not the result of the activities of outside inventors, iii) macroinventions were strongly labor saving.

About the speaker

Alessandro Nuvolari is Professor of Economic History at Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy. His main research interests are the role of science, technology and human capital in the emergence and consolidation of "modern economic growth" (with a particular focus on the British industrial revolution and on Italian industrialization) and the relationship between intellectual property rights and economic performance both in historical and contemporary contexts. He has published extensively on these issues in leading journals of economic history and innovation studies.

Venue: Conference room (0.16 & 0.17)

Date: 18 October 2018

Time: 12:00 - 13:00