A capital intensive innovation in a capital-scarce world: Steam-threshing in nineteenth century Italy

Giovanni Federico

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The Italian agriculture in the 19th century enjoyed a quite poor reputation among historians, for its innovative record. This article deals with a possible counterexample, the wide diffusion of steam threshing since the 1870s. It was a highly capital-intensive machine, and thus its success seems to contrast with the scarcity of capital, which plagued the Italian agriculture. Indeed, the pattern of diffusion in time and space was influenced by the cost of capital, but the constraint was eased by outsourcing. Steam-threshers were owned by specialised entrepreneurs and rented to farmers and landowners. This successful institutional arrangement casts a lot of doubt on the negative effects of the alleged institutional rigidity on technical change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Agricultural Economic History
Pages75-114
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2003

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agricultural Economic History
Volume2
ISSN (Print)1569-4933

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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