Article | Economic History Review | August 2011

Independent Invention During the Rise of the Corporate Economy in Britain and Japan

by Tom Nicholas

Abstract

Independent inventors accounted for approximately half of all patents in Britain and Japan by 1930, despite the rise of the corporate economy and the spread of industrial R&D. A mixture of patent renewal and historical citations data reveals that the quality of independent invention was high. Active markets for inventions created incentives for independents, especially in large cities like London and Tokyo, which dominated spatially. Alongside evidence for the United States, the findings show that in countries with different patent systems and at varying stages of economic development, a key component of overall inventive activity originated from outside the boundaries of firms.

Keywords: Independent Innovation and Invention; Development Economics; Research and Development; Patents; System; Motivation and Incentives; Tokyo; London; United States;

Citation:

Nicholas, Tom. "Independent Invention During the Rise of the Corporate Economy in Britain and Japan." Economic History Review 64, no. 2 (August 2011).