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Mothers of Innovation

How Expanding Social Networks Gave Birth to the Industrial Revolution

Author(s): Leonard Dudley

Book Description

What does it take for a society to be able to innovate? The question is crucial today when an increasing share of world patents are taken out by countries such as Japan, South Korea and China, which have limited energy resources and cultures very different from those in the West. However, most previous studies of the beginnings of industrialization have focused on the resources and institutions of Britain alone. As a result, they have missed the lessons to be learned from casting the net more widely so as to examine all regions of the North-Atlantic community. This book pinpoints the surprising differences between innovating and non-innovating regions. Protection of property rights, a practical ideology and abundant resources were not sufficient to spark accelerated innovation.

The key to the Industrial Revolution, this study shows through case studies and rigorous verification, was the effect of expanding social networks on people’s willingness to cooperate. Language standardization permitted the widening of circles of cooperation to encompass individuals with increasingly different sets of knowledge. The result was an unprecedented burst of what some linguists have called “double-scope blending” – the integration of hitherto unrelated concepts to create something new. These findings have important implications for corporate and government policy.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4096-5
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4096-3
Date of Publication: 01/10/2012
Pages / Size: 295 / A5
Price: £44.99


Leonard Dudley, born in Vancouver, Canada, received his PhD in Economics from Yale University. Currently, he is Honorary Professor at the Université de Montréal. He is the author of The Word and the Sword: How Techniques of Information and Violence Have Shaped Our World (1991) and Information Revolutions in the History of the West (2008).