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The renaissance of the "long waves" of the economy: basic innovations and growth spurts in the West German industry 1950 to 1977.

Resource Type
  • Kleinknecht, Alfred
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • Abstract

    The aim of the present study is to get insights of the postulated correlation between ‘basic innovations’ and ‘growth industry’ on the basis of the industrial net production’s growth rates of 50 industrial branches. It is demonstrated, that the growth industries of the 1950s and 1960s are identical with those industries, which has been affected by significant basic innovations in the 1930s and 1940s (plastics processing, oil industry, aircraft construction, electrical engineering, chemical industry, and vehicle construction). At the same time it is shown that the phenomenon of economic recession at the end of the 1970s coincides with the relative stagnation of these growth industries. Following the published research results on the historical emergence of basic innovations by Gerhard Mensch in 1977 (see: Mensch, G., 1977: Das technologische Patt – Innovationen überwinden die Depression. Frankfurt/M.) the investigator Kleinknecht developed hypotheses and first examination steps for an innovation theoretical interpretation of longer trend periods of economic growth. The researcher Mensch showed, that basic innovations on particular time points become more frequent (by about 1830/40, by about 1885 and by about 1935). These time points emerged in a period, which was discussed in the literature as phase of weaker economic development. According to the innovation theorists these basic innovations would create new markets and growth industries (in the case of product innovations) and existing industries change radically (in the case of process innovations). Due to the diffusion of new products or production processes sectoral growth spurts may occur, which extend over several economic cycles and therefore enables stable economic growth. In periods of accelerated economic growth only few new basic innovations are enforceable and accordingly an insufficient amount of new growth industries occurs. The economy would experience a period of instable growth and increased crise-prone which follows after the end of the sectoral growth spurts. This period of technological stand-off can only be resolved by new impulses of basic innovations. If this thesis carries a certain reality, it would be possible to show that during the periods of stronger economic growth these industries respectively emerge, which experienced weaker growth in past periods an which had been affected by basic innovations or which were developed by basic innovations. Drawing from an investment function, in which the development of industrial profit rates is defined as fundamental aspect of investments and growth, it would be possible to demonstrate, that basic innovations have a fundamental and positive effect on profit rates (return on capital) and its determinants. The hypotheses are tested using the example of the West German economy development between 1950 and 1977. The investigator Kleinknecht tied in with a casebook of basic innovations in the 1930s and 1940s, collected by Gerhard Mensch (1977). In his analysis Kleinknecht act on the assumption, that most of the basic innovations, which have been catched on after the strong economy crisis in 1929/32, principally developed their growth potential during the 1950s and the 1960s. In the first step single cases of basic innovation has been allocated to those branches of industry, which has been concerned with the production of innovative products in a decisive way or which has integrated process innovations in their production. As categorization system the list of industrial groups and industrial sectors („Verzeichnis der Industriegruppen und –zweige“) was used, which has been also taken as a basis for the development of statistical indices series for 48 sectors of the processing industry and the mining industry by the German Institute of Economic Research (Deutschen Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW, Berlin)). Kleinknecht refers in his work to these series of the DIW, when he analyzes the industrial production, the capital output ratio, etc. . For the analysis of the growth rates of 48 West German industrial sectors (manufacturing Industry and mining) the growth rates of the industrial net production at constant prices, calculated in the study of Krengel et al., were used and in the following calculated for the whole period of investigation and for subdivided time frames of the investigation period. The subdivided time frames corresponds the economic cycles between 1950 and 1977. Datatables in the search- and downloadsystem HISTAT (Topic: Growth, Economic Cycles, and Crisis = Wachstum, Konjunktur und Krisen): Annotation: HISTAT is offered in German. A. Identifikation der Wachstumsindustrien (Produktionszuwächse): A.01a Durchschnittliche jährliche Zuwächse der industriellen Nettoproduktion nach Industriezweigen (1950-1973) A.01b Relative Beiträge der einzelnen Zweige zum Gesamtzuwachs der Industrieproduktion nach Industriezweigen (1950-1973) A.02 Zyklendurchschnittliche Zuwächse der ´Innovationsindustrien´ im Vergleich zum Gesamtdurchschnitt (1950-1973) A.03 Durchschnittliche jährliche Veränderungen der Arbeitsproduktivität, der Kapitalintensität, des Kapitalkoeffizient je Konjunkturzyklus nach Industriezweigen (1950-1977) B. Indikatoren für die Entwicklung der industriellen Bruttoprofitrate: (Daten und Berechnungen von Elmar Altvater/Jürgen Hoffmann, 1981) B.01 Entwicklung der Kapitalrentabilität und ihrer Komponenten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1950-1977) B.02 Entwicklung der Kapitalproduktivität, der Profitquote und der Kapitalrentabilität in ausgewählten Industriegruppen der Bundesrepublik (1950-1977) B.03 Entwicklung der potentiellen Kapitalproduktivität und der Kapazitätsauslastung in der Industrie nach Branchen (1950-1977) B.04 Die Entwicklung der Kapitalrentabilität in 34 Zweigen der verarbeitenden Industrie und des Bergbaus in der Bundesrepublik (1950-1977)
Temporal Coverage
  • 1950 / 1977
Geographic Coverage
  • Germany (DE)
Collection Mode
Data and File Information
  • Unit Type: Text Unit
    Number of Units: 27
    Number of Variables: 242
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Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8446 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Kleinknecht, A., 1980: Überlegungen zur Renaissance der „langen Wellen“ der Konjunktur („Kondratieff-Zyklen“), in: Schröder, W. H./Spree, R. (Hrsg.), 1980: Historische Konjunkturforschung. Historisch-Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschungen Band 11. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, S. 316-338.

Update Metadata: 2017-12-29 | Issue Number: 75 | Registration Date: 2011-03-15

Kleinknecht, Alfred (2011): Zur Renaissance der „langen Wellen“ der Konjunktur: Basisinnovationen und Wachstumsschübe in der westdeutschen Industrie 1950 bis 1977.. Version: 1.0.0. GESIS Datenarchiv. Dataset.