Article | International Economic Review | May 2013

Hybrid Innovation in Meiji Japan

by Tom Nicholas


Japan's hybrid innovation system during the Meiji era of technological modernization provides a useful laboratory for examining the effectiveness of complementary mechanisms to patents. Patents were introduced in 1885, and by 1911, 1.2 million mostly non-pecuniary prizes were awarded at 8,503 competitions. Prizes provided a strong boost to patent outcomes, especially in less developed prefectures, and they also induced large spillovers of technical knowledge in prefectures adjacent to those with prizes, relative to distant control prefectures without prizes. Linking competition expenditures with the expected market value of patents induced by the prizes permits a cost-benefit assessment of the prize competitions to be made.

Keywords: patents; Prizes; Technological Innovation; System; Patents; Knowledge; Value; Cost vs Benefits; Factories, Labs, and Plants; Performance Effectiveness; Japan;


Nicholas, Tom. "Hybrid Innovation in Meiji Japan." International Economic Review 54, no. 2 (May 2013): 575–600.