State intervention in technology in the post war years: case studies in technology policy

  • Barry White

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is concerned with the means by which the state in Britain has attempted to influence the technological development of private industry in the period 1945-1979. Particular emphasis is laid on assessing the abilities of technology policy measures to promote innovation. With that objective, the innovation literature is selectively reviewed to draw up an analytical framework to evaluate the innovation content of policy (Chapter 2). Technology policy is taken to consist of the specific measures utilised by government and its agents that affect the technological behaviour of firms. The broad sweep of policy during the period under consideration is described in Chapter 3 which concentrates on elucidating its institutional structure and the activities of the bodies involved. The empirical core of the thesis consists of three parallel case studies of policy toward the computer, machine tool and textile machinery industries (Chapters 4-6). The studies provide detailed historical accounts of the development and composition of policy, relating it to its specific institutional and industrial contexts. Each reveals a different pattern and level of state intervention. The thesis concludes with a comparative review of the findings of the case studies within a discussion centred on the arguments presented in Chapter 2. Topics arising include the state's differential support for the range of activities involved in innovation, the location of state-funded R&D, the encouragement of supplier-user contact, and the difficulties raised in adoption and diffusion.
Date of AwardNov 1985
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRussell Moseley (Supervisor), Ernest Braun (Supervisor), Harry Rothman (Supervisor) & David Collingridge (Supervisor)


  • technology policy
  • innovation
  • computers
  • machine tools
  • textile machinery

Cite this