Technical Progress

  • Charles Kennedy
  • A. P. Thirlwall

Abstract

Over the years the term technical progress has been given a wide range of meanings and interpretations. Here we shall use the term in two main senses which will subsequently form the subject-matter of the two main sections of this Survey. First we shall use the term to refer to the effects of changes in technology, or more specifically the role of technical progress in the growth process. Secondly, we shall use the term to refer to changes in technology itself, defining technology as useful knowledge pertaining to the art of production. In this context, we shall be concerned with the knowledge-creating activities of research, invention and development, together with the process of absorption of new knowledge into the productive system. These two interpretations of the term technical progress correspond broadly to the division in the economic literature between “macro”-studies which attempt to quantify the rate of technical progress as a determinant of the growth of output, and “micro”-studies which seek to explain the process of technical change—usually in a disaggregated way in firms and industries. In some places our Survey will overlap with the recent theoretical survey of growth by Hahn and Matthews [112], but in the main it is its complement, except that to emulate its thoroughness and masterly exposition would be a technological feat in itself! Our instructions were to make this Survey Anglo-centric. But for reasons that economists will appreciate it has come inevitably to stride the Atlantic with by far the larger foot in North America.

Keywords

Migration Corn Europe Petroleum Steam 

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© The Royal Economic Society and the Social Science Research Council 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Kennedy
  • A. P. Thirlwall

There are no affiliations available

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