Journal Article

Accumulation of knowledge and accumulation of capital in early ‘theories’ of growth and development

Renee Prendergast

in Cambridge Journal of Economics

Published on behalf of Cambridge Political Economy Society

Volume 34, issue 3, pages 413-431
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0309-166X
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-3545 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cje/bep009
Accumulation of knowledge and accumulation of capital in early ‘theories’ of growth and development

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Economic Development
  • History of Economic Thought (to 1925)

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This paper argues that prior to Adam Smith economic progress was largely conceived as being based on the accumulation of knowledge. The development by Turgot and Smith of a concept of capital that subsumed other factors contributing to development led their followers to focus on capital to the neglect of the independent role of knowledge. The paper demonstrates that this paradigmatic shift was identified and challenged by Bentham, Hodgskin and Rae who argued for the independent role of innovation but without lasting impact.

Keywords: Knowledge; Capital; Accumulation; Innovation; B11; B12; O10; O30

Journal Article.  10905 words. 

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Economic Development ; History of Economic Thought (to 1925)

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