CHAPTER 9
TECHNICAL PROGRESS

WE must now introduce technical progress into the picture. At present we continue to assume that corresponding to each state of technical knowledge there is only one possible method of production for each type of commodity and of equipment (a spectrum of technical possibilities, entailing different ratios of labour to capital in a given phase of knowledge will be discussed in the next chapter).1


THE DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS

As time goes by entrepreneurs are continually introducing improvements in methods of production.2 Some are more active than others, and in each line there are some progressive firms, who are the first to make innovations, while the rest follow only when compelled to do so by the pressure of competition (those who are obstinately conservative, or who cannot raise funds to make the investments required by new methods are finally driven out of business and their space in the economy is taken up by other men).

The speed at which new methods are diffused throughout the economy depends partly upon the physical life of capital goods. When worn-out equipment is being replaced the new capital goods installed embody the latest devices to which the entrepreneur has access. Innovations which save working capital by speeding up the processes of production are very rapidly diffused (unless kept secret or protected by patents taken out by their first discoverers) for the capital goods

____________________
1
At this stage we assume that a new method is superior to all older ones at every level of wages.
2
Changes in products are ruled out (see above, p. 66).

-85-

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