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General Purpose Technologies in Theory, Applications and Controversy: A Review

Resource type
Date created
2017-07-17
Authors/Contributors
Abstract
Distinguishing characteristics of General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) are identified and definitions discussed. Our definition includes multipurpose and single-purpose technologies, defining them according to their micro-technological characteristics, not their macro-economic effects. Identifying technologies as GPTs requires recognizing their evolutionary nature, and accepting possible uncertainties concerning marginal cases. Many of the existing ‘tests’ of whether particular technologies are GPTs are based on misunderstandings either of what GPT theory predicts or what such tests can establish. The development of formal GPT theories is outlined, showing that only the early theories predicted the inevitability of GPT-induced showdown and surges. More recent GPT theories, designed to model the characteristics of GPTs, do not imply the necessity of specific macro effects. We show that GPTs can rejuvenate the growth process without causing slowdowns or surges. We conclude that existing criticisms of GPT theory can be resolved and that the concept remains useful for economic theory.
Document
Published as
Bekar, C., Carlaw, K., Lipsey, R. (2016). "General Purpose Technologies in Theory, Application and Controversy: A Review." Journal of Evolutionary Economics.
Publication title
Journal of Evolutionary Economics
Document title
General Purpose Technologies in Theory, Applications and Controversy: A Review
Date
2016
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
Scholarly level
Peer reviewed?
Yes
Language
English
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Download file Size
17-07-17_submission_version_post_referee.pdf 263.97 KB

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