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Knowledge and Competitive Advantage in the Synthetic Dye Industry, 1850–1914: The Coevolution of Firms, Technology, and National Institutions in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States

  • Johann Peter Murmann

It is London 1856. William Henry Perkin serendipitously invents the first synthetic dye while he is trying to synthesize quinine, a medicine for malaria. The nineteen-year-old Perkin leaves the Royal College of Chemistry and quickly commercializes his aniline purple dye, launching the synthetic dye industry. From that time on, the industry continues to dazzle the eye with ever new and appealing dye colors. Perkin, along with entrepreneurs from Britain and France, dominates the synthetic dye industry for the next eight years. During this period, British and French firms introduce most other innovative synthetic dyes onto the market, and they hold the largest global market share.

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Enterprise & Society
  • ISSN: 1467-2227
  • EISSN: 1467-2235
  • URL: /core/journals/enterprise-and-society
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