World War II and the Transformation of the American Chemical Industry

  • John Kenly SmithJr.
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences book series (SOSC, volume 12/1/2)


In the aftermath of World War II the American scientific community called for an increased emphasis on basic research to restore the stock of knowledge that had been depleted by four years of war-related research and development (1). Behind this call was a model of technological change that made scientific research the mainspring of innovation. Yet, examination of the impact of World War II on the chemical industry reveals a different scenario. In the 1930s chemists in many corporate laboratories had developed technologies for making polymers or long-chain molecules, which could form the basis for an unlimited number of new materials, but full commercialization had been blocked by numerous obstacles. For the chemical industry the real change of the war was to bridge the gap between development and commercialization — not between science and technology. With government help the industry met the challenge and found itself transformed by its wartime programs.


Natural Rubber Stress Corrosion Crack Rubber Tire Polymer Technology Vinyl Resin 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kenly SmithJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehigh UniversityUSA

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