This book describes technological change in an industry that played a central role in the Indsutrial Revolution. While earlier scholars have examined isolated aspects of ironmaking in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain, Charles Hyde surveys all aspects of its development. Costs, prices, profits, shrewd leaders, competition, new inventions, and productivity all figure in this story of a key industry during the major period of its evolution.
The author’s account illuminates not only the nature of innovation in one industry, but the nature of technologial change in general. using new data compiled form the records of the ironmaking concerns, Professor Hyde considers each of the basic economic variables affecting entrepreneurial decisions. He finds that ironmaking advanced through a process of gradual, continuous change rather than through a series of discrete innovations. The rate of diffusion of new techniques corresponded to their profitability when compared to that of existing means of production — a finding that explains that timing of innovation.
Charles K. Hyde is Assistant Professor of Social Science at Monteith College, Wayne State University.
Originally published in 1977.
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