Proposal preview

The new economic history of patents and innovation

Over the last two decades, historical patent data have become a very versatile indicator in the toolkit of economic historians interested in reconstructing sources and drivers of technical progress (cfr. J. Streb, ‘The Cliometric Study of Innovations’ in C. Diebolt and M. Haupert (eds.), Handbook of Cliometrics, 2016 ). In this respect, the main advantage of patents is to allow a systematic quantitative appraisal and testing of hypothesis concerning historical patterns of innovation, whereas previous research was, by and large, limited to impressionistic qualitative assessments.
Starting from seminal contributions on United States and Britain, several historical patent studies are now available for a growing number of countries and time-periods comprising, for instance, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. In particular, this literature has shed light on important research issues such as the role of independent versus corporate innovation, the geographical clustering of inventive activities, the sources of breakthrough versus incremental innovations, the impact of different patent legislations on inventive activities, etc.
The aim of this session is twofold: the first goal is to take stock of the progress obtained in this field by showcasing papers that will illustrate the potential (but also the limitations) of historical patent data in different historical contexts; the second goal is to advance this research agenda by making some concrete steps towards the integration and harmonization of the available historical patent data-sets.

Interested participants are welcome to submit an abstract of max 500 words before 1 March 2018 to Michelangelo Vasta (vasta@unisi.it). Acceptance will be communicated before 15 March 2018.

Organizer(s)

  • Michelangelo Vasta, University of Siena, vasta@unisi.it, Italy
  • Jochen Streb, University of Mannheim, streb@uni-mannheim.de, Germany
  • Alessandro Nuvolari, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies - Pisa, alessandro.nuvolari@santannapisa.it, Italy

Session members

  • David Andersson, Uppsala University, david.andersson@fek.uu.se
  • Zorina Khan, Bowdoin College, bkhan@bowdoin.edu
  • Patricio Saiz, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, patricio.saiz@uam.es
  • Fredrik Tell, Uppsala University, fredrik.tell@fek.uu.se

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Jim Bessen, Boston University, jbessen@bu.edu

This panel has Call for Papers open.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the panel organizer(s) to submit a proposal.

  • Michelangelo Vasta, University of Siena, vasta@unisi.it, Italy
  • Jochen Streb, University of Mannheim, streb@uni-mannheim.de, Germany
  • Alessandro Nuvolari, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies - Pisa, alessandro.nuvolari@santannapisa.it, Italy

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