Book Reviews

AuthorDavid L. McNicol
DOI10.1177/0003603X7401900223
Published date01 June 1974
Date01 June 1974
Subject MatterBook Reviews
BOOK
REVIEWS
451
John
E. Tilton,
International
Diffusion
of
Technology:
The
Case
of
Semiconductors, Washington: The Brookings In-
stitution (1971), 183 pp., $7.95.
The development of a commercially viable product or
process from an invention is notoriously risky
and
typically
expensive. Consequently, the innovative process is seldom
repeated
in
toto by firms
that
eventually adopt the innova-
tion. Instead, the innovation itself is "diffused" from the
original source through a
variety
of channels.
Invention, innovation, and the relationship between the
two have been extensively studied. The
diffusion
of innova-
tion has not, although there
are
studies of the diffusion of
innovations in the U.S., most notably those by Griliches"
and
Mansfield," These studies have established the diffusion of
innovation as a distinguishable
part
of the process of tech-
nical change, identified the crucial considerations in the
firm's decision to innovate, and described the time required
for the diffusion of several
major
innovations.
Tilton's book is a useful addition to the small corpus of
work on the diffusion of technical innovations. The book
has
little to
say
about the decisions of individual firms.
It
does
identify the channels through which semiconductor tech-
nology was diffused
and
explains these in terms of the econom-
ics of the industry. The principal novelty of the book is its
concern with the diffusion of technology across national
borders, which is clearly atimely topic.
It
was recognized
from
the earliest days of the
industry
that
semiconductors might be used in place of vacuum tubes.
Attempts to develop practicable semiconductors began
in
the
1930's,
but
the seminal development occurred in 1948, when
Bell Laboratories announced
its
invention of the point con-
1Z. Griliches,
"Hybrid
Corn: An Exploration of the Economics
of Technological Change," Econometrica, Vol. 25 (Oct., 1967), pp.
501-522.
2E. Mansfield, Industrial Research and Technological Innovation
(New
York:
Norton, 1968),
Part
IV.

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