Robots and the Imitation Process: Japan and the USA

  • Edwin Mansfield


In 1961, I proposed a simple model to represent the imitation process — the process by which the use of an innovation spreads from firm to firm.1 This model has been used to analyse the imitation process for dozens of innovations, ranging from the diesel locomotive to numerically controlled machine-tools.2 This chapter summarises very briefly some of the results of a recent study I conducted in which this model was used to analyse the spread of industrial robots, one of the most important manufacturing innovations of the late twentieth century, in both Japan and the USA.3


Industrial Robot Japanese Firm Auto Part Motor Industry Japanese Industry 
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  1. Ayres, R., Lynn, L. and Miller, S. (1982) ‘Technology Transfer in Robotics between the USA and Japan’, in C. Uyehara (ed.) Technological Exchange: The US-Japanese Experience (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982).Google Scholar
  2. Flamm, K. (1986) ‘International Difference in Industrial Robot Use’, unpublished.Google Scholar
  3. Mansfield, E. (1961) ‘Technical Change and the Rate of Imitation’, Econometrica, 29, pp. 741–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Mansfield, E. (1968) Industrial Research and Technological Innovation (New York: W.W. Norton for the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University).Google Scholar
  5. Mansfield, E. et al. (1971) Research and Innovation in the Modern Corporation (New York: W.W. Norton).Google Scholar
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  7. Mansfield, E. (1987a) ‘Innovation, R and D, and Firm Growth in Robotics: Japan and the United States’, Symposium on Research and Development, Industrial Change and Public Policy, University of Karlstad, Sweden.Google Scholar
  8. Mansfield, E. (1989a forthcoming) ‘The Diffusion of Industrial Robots in Japan and the United States’, Research Policy. Google Scholar
  9. Mansfield, E. (1989b forthcoming) ‘Technological Change in Robotics: Japan and the United States’, Managerial and Decision Economics. Google Scholar
  10. Panel on Technology and Employment (1987) Technology and Employment (Washington, DC: National Academy Press).Google Scholar
  11. President’s Commission on Industrial Competitiveness (1985) Global Competition: The New Reality (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office).Google Scholar
  12. Romeo, A. (1977) ‘The Rate of Imitation of a Capital-embodied Process Innovation’, Economica, 44, pp. 63–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Manas Chatterji 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin Mansfield

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