New Empirical Methods and Simulation Techniques
Edited by Pier Paolo Saviotti
Chapter 7: Innovation Direction and Persistence within an Industry: The Refining Processes Case
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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