TRANSFERRING TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATING IN EUROPE_ c.1200

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					TRANSFERRING TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE AND
    INNOVATING IN EUROPE, c.1200-c.1800




           STEPHAN R. EPSTEIN
                  BACKGROUND




• The ‘Great Divergence’ (Pomeranz 2000)

• The ‘Industrial Enlightenment’ (Mokyr 2002)

• The 1st Industrial Revolution as a technological revolution
                     FIVE STYLIZED FACTS

1.   The institutional context of technological innovation in 18th c. Europe was
     not significantly different from that in 13th c. Europe.

2.   Europe c.1200 was a technological backwater by comparison with China,
     India. By 1800, Europe had forged ahead. Catching up was the result of
     small-scale, cumulative innovation.

3.   The main source of human capital formation was the craft guild. European
     guilds were non-ascriptive: entry and exit were cheap.

4.   The knowledge of premodern technicians was experiential and largely
     tacit  technological diffusion and progress through recombination
     required high levels of labour mobility.

5.   Technological progress in Europe withstood local shocks better than in
     China, because skilled technicians could migrate.
               HUMAN CAPITAL FORMATION



• EIC: Craft guilds emerged during the 11th/12th c.s for welfare, training
  etc. purposes

     Overcome training externalities by banning poaching and
      monitoring master / apprentice relations

     Share ‘collective knowledge’, including ‘collective invention’

     Survive to the late 18th / 19th c.s as main (though not sole)
      institution for skills transfer
                                     Figure 1. Established craft guilds, Italy and Netherlands 1100-1800

                  1600


                  1400


                  1200


                  1000
Cumulative nos.




                  800


                  600


                  400


                  200


                    0
                         1100-1399                    1400-1559                       1560-1669            1670-1784

                                                    ITALY         S. NETHERLANDS        N. NETHERLANDS
                                       Figure 2. Skill differentials in the European building industry, 1300-1799 (by city)

2.4



2.2
                          London


 2

                                        Antwerp                                                        Strasbourg

1.8



1.6



1.4                                                                                    Vienna



1.2
                                                                                          Valencia

 1
      1300-   1325-   1350-   1375-   1400-   1425-   1450-   1475-   1500-   1525-   1550-   1575-   1600-   1625-   1650-   1675-   1700-   1725-   1750-   1775-
       24      49      74      99      24      49      74      99      24      49      74      99      24      49      74      99      24      49      74      99
      EIC: ABILITY TO CODIFY AND EXPERIMENT


• Extensive codification via drawing, product design, 3D modelling,
  numbers

• Codification as means for technical heuristics

• Pressure for codification arises endogenously from circulation of
  technicians with different practices

• Experimentation for product and process innovation from 15th c.
    TRANSFERRING KNOWLEDGE ACROSS SPACE


• 3 kinds of transfer: by text, by patent, by migrating individuals


     Transfer by text and patent of little use before 1800

     Two kinds of physical transfer: temporary and permanent

     Temporary transfer via journeyman tramping (allocation
      mechanism) from 14th c. (EIC)

     Some evidence of labor market integration in the Gothic era (pre
      1550) 
                                                    Figure 3. Integration of the skilled builders' market 1400-1799

                      0.6




                      0.5
                                                                                    MEDIT


                      0.4
Cvar wages (gr. Ag)




                      0.3




                      0.2
                                       NW EUR


                      0.1




                       0
                        1400   1425   1450   1475    1500    1525    1550    1575     1600    1625    1650    1675    1700   1725   1750   1775

                                                            MEDIT       NW EUR         WC EUR        POLAND
  TRANSFERRING KNOWLEDGE ACROSS SPACE cont.


• Permanent transfer caused by local shocks (push) and competing
  mercantilist states (pull)

• Guild opposition to incoming innovators based on nature of innovation
  (L/K saving) and internal guild structure (large vs. small artisans)

• Evidence that transfer system works successfully from shifting
  technological frontier from SE (c.1200-1500) to NW (1600-1800)
 TRANSFERRING KNOWLEDGE ACROSS SPACE cont.



• Two main impediments to technological transfer were information and
  transport costs, and lack of technical complementarities



• Transfer costs fall over time (cf. urbanization, transport, market
  integration)
                         CONCLUSIONS


1.   Craft guilds generate human capital, but have weak control over
     entry and esp. exit (distinctively European)

2.   High ecological variation in demand (not distinctively European)

3.   Competing sources of court-based demand (not source of dynamic
     disequilibrium; distinctively European?)

4.   Persistent military competition (source of dynamic disequilibrium;
     distinctively European)

5.   ‘Cardwell’s Law’ (long-run diminishing returns due to rent-seeking
     etc.) is evaded through migration (distinctively European?)

				
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