Technological Diffusion: European Experience to 1850 Essay
Technological Diffusion: European Experience to 1850Technological progress is one of the key factors that affect economic development of the country. In the article “Technological Diffusion: European Experience to 1850” Charles Kindleberger discusses how technological progress of Britain was diffused to the Continent. In particular, the author highlights key transmission mechanisms identifying the differences in the speed of penetration.
Kindleberger suggests that technological progress plays important role, and I fully agree with him because level of technological advance is directly related to economic development. Many of developing and undeveloped countries lack exactly technological progress to foster economic growth. Thus, Kindleberger shows that economic growth of developing countries is related to their abilities to absorb foreign technologies and to develop their own.
Technological progress can’t be explained solely by economic factors.Kindleberger argues that rates of economic growth are attributed to catching up technical capacity. Nonetheless, the drivers of technological progress are different. For example, some countries are driven by the pressure of wartime demands, whereas others are driven by recovery from destruction and dislocation.
Many developing countries are striving to apply the leader’s technological advances within the frame of their economies. I don’t see anything bad in that as every country is willing to develop economically, to improve living standards and to decrease poverty rates. Many countries lack scientists and innovators and, thus, foreign technologies remain the only effective way to improve country’s position.Kindleberger says that social capability explains the failure of many developing countries to catch up foreign technologies.
Other factors include supply elasticity, social adaptability, capacity to transform and national vitality. Combination of the factors illustrates country’s ability to successfully adopt technologies of developed countries. Of course, the issue of technological diffusion is not new, and there is a number of studies devoted to diffusion of the British technologies to the Continent, but Kindleberger adds new dimension to the study – idea of social capability. He argues that British industrial revolution can’t be attributed to country’s ability to catch up with Italian and Holland technologies. Instead, education plays vital role for economic growth.
Of course, the author is right as education is able to change the character and speed of economic growth.Moreover, I think that technological progress is strongly affected by economic and social institutions. In Britain, high standards of workmanship assisted country’s economic development. The standards were kept too high, despite restricted entry and output, and cheaper substitutes.
Kindleberger argues that Britain was dependent on its technological diffusion to the Continent till 1600. In particular, the country depended on German, French and Dutch workers. But it is industrial revolution that has changed Britain and its position in the world. Interestingly, some researches doubt the occurrence of industrial revolution in the country stressing that key factor of rapid development may be significant rise in income per capita. I think that British industrial revolution is far more complex driven by a combination of internal and external factors.Kindleberger cites Joel Mokyr, who is really fascinated by the idea of ‘Cardwell’s Law’. The law suggests that when economic in one country is declining, economic development in another is increasing.
However, economic rise is only for a short period of time. Kindleberger concludes that Europe remains the true home of technological advances, and it is understandable because the majority of European countries are developed economies. Thus, such countries have more resources for technological and economic development.
Finally, the author stresses that changes are inevitable, and there is always the risk of resistance to change. I think that countries may resist changes not being aware of opportunities and possibilities they may bring. Technologies are swiftly developing and changing, thus, countries should introduce changes to keep up with changing requirements and demands.Works CitedKindleberger, Charles. P.
Technological Diffusion: European Experience to 1850. J Evol Econ, 5 (1995): pp. 229-242.