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Book description

A comparison of the development of the synthetic dye industry in Great Britain, Germany, and the US. The rise of this industry constitutes an important chapter in business, economic, and technological history because synthetic dyes - invented in 1857 - represent the first time that a scientific discovery quickly gave rise to a new industry. British firms led the industry for the next eight years, but German firms came to dominate the industry for decades before WWI, while American firms played only a minor role during the entire period. This study identifies differences in educational institutions and patent laws as the key reasons for German leadership in this industry. Successful firms had strong ties to the centers of organic chemistry knowledge. The book also argues that a complex coevolutionary process linking firms, technology and national institutions resulted in very different degrees of industrial success for dye firms in the three countries.


‘… the book is a short valuable technological history of dyes, as well as a collection of databases on firms and plants. There’s also a comprehensive bibliography and a good index. Murmann’s book will interest and stimulate the thinking of anyone involved in management in a technology-based operation. I also recommend it to policy makers in governmental organizations that seek to influence international policy. As Murmann hopes, it should also encourage additional research.’

Source: Chemical and Engineering News

'Murmann's sophisticated co-evolutionary theory of industrial leadership considerably increases our understanding of the dynamics of international competition.'

Jochen Streb - University of Hohenheim

'Murmann's book all in all is a masterpiece of historical sociology. It achieves both completeness and particularity. … For business historians, Murmann's work demonstrates the exciting potential of an organized and systematic effort, creatively presented, to make industrial history meaningful to managers, and other historians, without sacrificing richness of detail.

Source: Enterprise and Society

'It is always a welcome sign when some aspect of the history of chemistry is placed within a new context and made relevant to new audiences. This is what Johann Peter Murmann has achieved with considerable success …'

Source: Ambix

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