The Endogeneity of Technological Change in 20th Century America


Date Thursday October 9th 2003
Time 5:00 PM
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

In the last decade of the twentieth century, economic theorists turned their attention to the possibility of modelling technological change as an endogenous variable. The most influential contribution was a paper by Paul Romer, “Endogenous Technological Change,” published in the Journal of Political Economy in 1990. The present paper approaches the issue of endogeneity of technology from a historical perspective rather than a purely theoretical one. The argument is that, in the course of the twentieth century, organizational changes took place that significantly increased the endogeneity of technological change, and did so more rapidly than was the case in other OECD countries. The paper also goes one crucial step beyond the technological level, asserting that the growing endogeneity applied, not only to the realm of technology, but to that of science as well.


Nathan Rosenberg is Professor of Economics (Emeritus) in the Department of Economics at Stanford University. He is also Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He was educated at Rutgers University, University of Wisconsin and Oxford University. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Purdue University, Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, the London School of Economics, and Cambridge University, where he served as the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions.

Professor Rosenberg's primary research activities have been in the economics of technological change. His publications have addressed both the questions of the determinants and the consequences of technological change. His research has examined the diversity of the forces generating technological change across industrial boundary lines, as well as the mutual influences between scientific research and technological innovation. Professor Rosenberg's books include The American System of Manufactures, Perspectives on Technology, Inside the Black Box, Technology and the Pursuit of Economic Growth (with David Mowery), How the West Grew Rich (with L.E. Birdzell, Jr.), Exploring the Black Box, The Emergence of Economic Ideas, Paths of Innovation (with David Mowery) and, most recently, Schumpeter and the Endogeneity of Technology.

Professor Rosenberg has served as chairman of the Stanford Economics Department. He is a member of the Executive Board as well as the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences. He is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Lund and the University of Bologna. He was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Prize for his contributions to the history of technology.

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