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November 1999

The Demography of Corporations and Industries

by Glenn R. Carroll and Michael T. Hannan
The publisher’s preview: The Demography of Corporations and Industries is the first book to present the demographic approach to organizational studies in its entirety. It examines the theory, models, methods, and data used in corporate demographic research. Carroll and Hannan explore the processes by which corporate populations change over time, including organizational founding, growth, decline, structural transformation, and mortality. They review and synthesize the major theoretical mechanisms of corporate demography, ranging from aging and size dependence to population segregation and density dependence. The book also explores some selected implications of corporate demography for public policy, including employment and regulation.  Click on the title for a table of contents. Read Boyan Jovanovic’s Review in the JEL.

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October 1999

Sources of Industrial Leadership: Studies of Seven Industries.

David Mowery and Richard R. Nelson
This book describes and analyzes how seven major high-tech industries evolved in the USA, Japan, and Western Europe. The industries covered are machine tools, organic chemical products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, computers, semiconductors, and software. In each of these industries, firms located in one or a very few countries became the clear technological and commercial leaders. In number of cases, the locus of leadership changed, sometimes more than once, over the course of the histories studied. The locus of the book is on the key factors that supported the emergence of national leadership in each industry, and the reasons behind the shifts when they occurred. Special attention is given to the national policies which helped to create, or sustain, industrial leadership.  Click on the title for a table of contents.  Read Paul L. Robertson’s Review on eh.net.

February 27, 1999

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Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then developed religion --as well as nasty germs and potent weapons of war --and adventured on sea and land to conquer and decimate preliterate cultures.

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Evolutionary Innovations: The Business of Biotechnology by Maureen D. McKelvey

This book examines the initial commercial uses of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is one of the most modern, controversial and dynamic of the science based technologies. It is not an object but a set of techniques or way of doing things. The development of these techniques from the 1970s onwards illustrates the changing relationships between universities and firms and between basic science and research oriented towards commercial uses. The main focus of the book is on two firms - Genentech in the United States and Kabi in Sweden and their activities and ‘knowledge-seeking’ behavior in the development of human growth hormone and how those ran in parallel with university science. As well as providing a remarkably clear account of these developments (the book includes a chapter on the basics of biotechnology for the lay person), McKelvey also provides a fresh contribution to our understanding of innovation processes by using the evolutionary metaphor to interpret patterns of change where novelty, transmission, and selection are important elements, and where the knowledge-seeking behavior of firms and other agents are critical for survival and development. The book will be of considerable interest to a wide audience concerned to understand the complexities of innovation processes in the ‘knowledge society’ - management and organization researchers, economists, policy advisers, managers and strategies responsible for turning knowledge into product and profit.

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