A Note on Martin Campbell-Kelly’s “Software as an Economic Activity” and David Mowery’s “Commentary”

  • David A. Hounshell
Conference paper


As with the history of any technology, business, or industry, the history of software raises the question for the historian of what unit of analysis should be used. Reading Martin Campbell-Kelly’s paper, “Software as an Economic Activity,” and David C. Mowery’s commentary suggests the clear need for greater methodological rigor and consistency, vis-à-vis analytical units, in studying the history of software.


Economic Activity Basic Unit Competition Policy Industry Evolution Software Industry 
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  1. 1.
    For a discussion of the firm as the unit of analysis in business history, see David Hounshell, “Hughesian History of Technology and Chandlerian Business History: Parallels, Departures, and Critics,” History and Technology 12 (1995): 205–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for example, Steven Klepper, “Entry, Exit, Growth, and Innovation over the Product Life Cycle,” American Economic Review 86 (1996): 562–83;Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    Kenneth L. Simons, “Technological Change and Firm Survival in New Manufacturing Industries,” Ph.D. diss., Carnegie Mellon University, 1995;Google Scholar
  4. 2b.
    Sally Sleeper, “The Role of Firm Capabilities in the Evolution of the Laser Industry: the Making of a High-Tech Market,” Ph.D. diss., Carnegie Mellon University, 1998;Google Scholar
  5. 2c.
    Daniel Holbrook, “Technical Diversity and Technological Change in the American Semiconductor Industry, 1952–65,” Ph.D. diss., Carnegie Mellon University, 1999; Daniel Holbrook et al., “The Nature, Sources, and Consequences of Firm Differences in the Early History of the Semiconductor Industry,” Strategic Management Journal (Chichester, forthcoming); Steven Klepper and Kenneth Simons, “Dominance by Birthright: Entry of Prior Radio Producers and Competitive Ramifications in the US Television Receiver Industry, “ Paper Delivered at the Eighth International Meeting of the Joseph A. Schumpeter Society, Manchester, U.K., 1 July 2000; Steven Klepper and Sally Sleeper, “Entry by Spinoffs,” Mimeo, June 2000.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Hounshell
    • 1
  1. 1.Henry R. Luce Professor of Technology and Social ChangeCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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