The diffusion of new process innovations in U.K. manufacturing industries
This thesis comprises a theoretical and empirical study of the spread\ud of new techniques within industry (the so-called diffusion process.) The\ud major aim has been to provide an economic explanation for differences\ud between industries in the speed with which they adopt new techniques or\ud innovations.\ud The theoretical underpinning of the study is a general model of the\ud diffusion process based on an explicit theory of individual firms' decision\ud making behaviour in this context. This model is built around the discussions\ud of the early chapters on the technological characteristics of new process\ud innovations and the results of past work on the nature of the adoption\ud decision at the firm level.\ud The empirical part of the thesis is concerned with testing the various\ud predictions generated by the model using data collected on the diffusion\ud of 22 major innovations in various U.K. industries since the war. A\ud number of hypotheses appear to be confirmed: at the individual firm level,\ud behaviour is partly determined by the firm's size; at the industry level,\ud competitive structure and aggregate demand conditions appear to influence\ud the speed of diffusion, and further, the characteristics of the innovations\ud themselves affect not only the speed of diffusion but also the shape of the\ud diffusion growth curve.\ud The thesis constitutes the first large scale empirical study of diffusion\ud in the U.K. industry. Theoretically, it provides the first model of diffusion\ud to be based on economic decision making rather than the mechanistic models\ud of epidemics which have been used previously in this area.