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Applied Evolutionary Economics

New Empirical Methods and Simulation Techniques

Edited by Pier Paolo Saviotti

The expert contributors to this book examine recent developments in empirical methods and applied simulation in evolutionary economics. Using examples of innovation and technology in industry, it is the first book to address the following questions in a systematic manner: Can evolutionary economics use the same empirical methods as other research traditions in economics?; Is there a need for empirical methods appropriate to the subject matter chosen?; What is the relationship between appreciative theorising, case studies and more structured empirical methods?; and What is the relationship of modelling and simulation to empirical analysis?
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Chapter 7: Innovation Direction and Persistence within an Industry: The Refining Processes Case

François Bel and Bernard Bourgeois


7. Innovation direction and persistence within an industry: the refining processes case François Bel and Bernard Bourgeois INTRODUCTION Geroski et al.’s (1997) paper has been an important contribution, from patent data bases and at an intersector level, to the following debate. Among the innovative firm subset, what is the relative importance of the persistent ones? If the observed share is rather low, what are the explaining factors, and what are the consequences on the validity of the often quoted ‘dynamic economies of scale’ or ‘success breeds success’ representation? Our purpose is to assess the eventual existence of persistent innovative behaviour within an industry, the refining process supply industry, which has been most often presented in the literature as an industry with a preeminence of many incremental innovations, economies of scale and cumulative learning effects. That is to say, with a presumption of possible persistent innovative behaviour. We assume the existence, within a given technological area and over a long period (50 years), of a relationship, which can be documented at a sector-based level, between intensity and direction of technical change on the one hand, and persistent innovative behaviour on the other. In a first section, innovation taxonomy issues are recalled, and necessary information is provided about our two data files which are related to two kinds (incremental and ‘major’) of innovation in refining processes over the 1947–98 period. We then try to assess intensity and direction shifts of innovation. In the next section persistent...

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