Technological Transitions and System Innovations
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Technological Transitions and System Innovations A Co-Evolutionary and Socio-Technical Analysis

A Co-Evolutionary and Socio-Technical Analysis

Frank W. Geels

This important book addresses how long term and large scale shifts from one socio-technical system to another come about, using insights from evolutionary economics, sociology of technology and innovation studies. These major changes involve not just technological changes, but also changes in markets, regulation, culture, industrial networks and infrastructure.
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Chapter 4: The Transition from Sailing Ships to Steamships in British Oceanic Transport (1780–1890)

Frank W. Geels

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4. The transition from sailing ships to steamships in British oceanic transport (1780–1890) 4.1 INTRODUCTION In the nineteenth century, Great Britain was the dominant shipping nation, with a fleet larger than that of other European countries (see Table 4.1). Table 4.1 European merchant shipping fleets (1000 net British tons) Great Britain 1780 1820 Sail Steam 1840 Sail Steam 1860 Sail Steam 1880 Sail Steam 1900 Sail Steam 1920 Sail Steam Note: Germany 123 – – – – 754 23 927 177 584 1,319 288 1,546 Netherlands 398 – – – – 485 11 264 64 78 268 24 969 France 729 – – 653 10 928 68 642 278 510 528 433 1,085 Norway 386 – – – – – – 1,461 58 1,003 505 204 1,199 882 2,436 3 2,680 88 4,204 454 3,851 2,724 2,096 7,208 584 10,777 For some countries before 1860, data are missing. Source: Ville (1990: 68–71). 103 104 12,000 Tonnage ('000 net tons) 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 1820 Technological transitions and system innovations Sail UK Steam UK 1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 Source: Based on data from Ville (1990). Figure 4.1 Tonnage of steamships and sailing ships in Great Britain Great Britain was also the leading country in the transition from sailing ships to steamships. This technological transition is represented in Figure 4.1. It is sometimes portrayed as a simple technological substitution process (for example, Grübler, 1991, discussed in Chapter 2, Section 2.3), but this...

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