Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 907–932 | Cite as

Using simulation experiments to test historical explanations: the development of the German dye industry 1857-1913

  • Thomas Brenner
  • Johann Peter Murmann
Regular Article


In a simulation experiment, building on the abductive simulation approach of Brenner and Werker (2007), we test historical explanations for why German firms came to surpass British and France firms and to dominate the global synthetic dye industry for three decades before World War 1 while the U.S. never achieved large market share despite large home demand. Murmann and Homburg (J Evol Econ 11(2):177–205, 2001) and Murmann (2003) argued that German firms came to dominate the global industry because of (1) the high initial number of chemists in Germany at the start of the industry in 1857, (2) the high responsiveness of the German university system and (3) the late (1877) introduction of a patent regime in Germany as well as the more narrow construction of this regime compared to Britain, France and the U.S. We test the validity of these three potential explanations with the help of simulation experiments. The experiments show that the 2nd explanation—the high responsiveness of the German university system— is the most compelling one because unlike the other two it is true for virtually all plausible historical settings.


Simulation experiment Historical development Dye industry Industrial development University education Patent law 

JEL classification

C15 C63 L16 L65 N12 N13 O15 O34 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyPhilipps University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.UNSW Australia Business SchoolSydneyAustralia

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