Intermediary functions and the market for innovation in Meiji and Taishō Japan

Tom Nicholas, Hiroshi Shimizu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Japan experienced a transformational phase of technological development during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We argue that an important, but so far neglected, factor was a developing market for innovation and a patent-attorney system that was conducive to rapid technical change. We support our hypothesis using patent data and we also present a detailed case study on Tomogorō Ono, a key developer of salt-production technology who used attorneys in connection with his patenting work at a time when Japan was still in the process of formally institutionalizing its patent-attorney system. In accordance with Lamoreaux and Sokoloff's 1999 influential study of trade in invention in the United States, our quantitative and qualitative evidence highlights how inventors and intermediaries in Japan interacted to create a market for new ideas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-149
Number of pages29
JournalBusiness History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • History


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