2001/17 LEM Working Paper Series

The Chemical Sector al System. Firms, markets, institutions and the processes of knowledge creation and diffusion
F. Cesaroni, A. Gambardella, W. Garcia-Fontes, M. Mariani
Chemical Industry, Industry Dynamics, Networks, Markets for Technology, Division of Innovative Labour, Networks of Inventors, Patents, Technology Licensing.

According to the Sectoral Systems of Innovation and Production approach, the analysis of a specific sector has to describe its knowledge and technological base, existing complementarities among knowledge, technologies and products, the heterogeneity of agents, their learning processes and competencies, the role of non-firm organisations, and the presence of (co)evolutionary processes. This study applies this theoretical framework to the chemical industry, and examines evolution and co-evolution processes that have characterised this industry over its 200 years history. It emerges a strong dichotomy in industry dynamics. On the one hand, big discontinuities can be observed in knowledge and technological dimensions, which implied a major change in industry structure and a growing division of labour at the industry level. On the other hand, a big continuity can be observed as well, mainly in companies life. Indeed, one important feature of the chemical industry is that between small and large companies, markets, research institutions and other organisations there has been a continuous process of co-evolution, with firms playing the central role within the chemical system.

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