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Why Was Rate and Direction So Important?

Why Was Rate and Direction So Important?

(p.27) 1. Why Was Rate and Direction So Important?
The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited
Nathan RosenbergScott Stern
University of Chicago Press

This chapter begins with a critical assessment of the 1962 edition of this book, with a focus on identifying why this earlier volume turned out to be so influential on subsequent scholarship. The central contention of the remarks is that the Rate and Direction Conference can be interpreted as a reaction to the work by Solow and others highlighting the aggregate implications of technological change. More than simply a debate about the nature of the “residual,” the 1960 conference focused attention on the central economic questions raised by inventive activity, innovation, and technological change. Specifically, it highlighted (1) the nature of innovation as an economic good, (2) the economics of the organization of research and development, and (3) the industrial organization of innovation-intensive industries and sectors, with a particular focus on dynamics and evolution. As a marker in the history of economic thought in this area, a central contribution of the earlier conference was to crystallize the questions and issues that would come to dominate the microeconomics of innovation and technological change for the foreseeable future.

Keywords:   rate and direction, technological change, inventive activity, innovation, economics, microeconomics

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