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British technologies and Polish economic development 1815-1863.

Niziol, Simon (1996) British technologies and Polish economic development 1815-1863. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

After the restoration of peace in 1815, several European countries sought to transform their economies by the direct borrowing of British technologies. One of these was the semiautonomous Kingdom of Poland. The Kingdom's technology transfer initiatives have been largely ignored by foreign researchers, while Polish historians have failed to place developments in the Kingdom within a wider context of European followership. The varying fortunes of Polish transfer initiatives offer valuable insights into the mechanisms and constraints of the transfer process. A close study of attempts to introduce British technologies in mechanical engineering, metallurgy, railway construction, textile production and agriculture contradicts most Polish scholarship by establishing that most of the transfer initiatives were either misplaced or at least premature. The thesis also reexamines the relationship between the Russian empire and the Kingdom of Poland, and suggests for the first time that general Russian attitudes towards industrial development per se were as much a hinderance to the Polish economy as the more familiar Russian hostility to the Poles, although it was Russian interference which suppressed the most promising initiatives in agriculture. The Polish case offers excellent illustrations of supply driven transfers resulting in inappropriate technological choices, premature initiatives and technologies bearing little relation to the size and nature of the markets they were designed to satisfy. At the same time, demand driven transfers in the Kingdom's textile industries resulted in successful diffusion of end user technologies, particularly among cotton producers. However, even failed initiatives witnessed a successful transmission of skills and knowledge, suggesting that technology transfer is a far more complex issue than most historical case studies allow. Furthermore, nineteenth century Poland offers an excellent example of a case study where economic performance was heavily distorted by complex political factors. In such a case, theories of economic development or technology transfer are rarely sufficient to explain the course of history. In the absence of a satisfactory conceptual framework within available scholarship on historical technology transfers, the thesis utilizes concepts from contemporary developmental economics, concepts which allow a much more sophisticated and coherent analysis of transfer case studies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, European, Economics, History
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1409

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