Dutch Treat

23 March 2009 at 10:38 am 5 comments

goldmember-771165| Peter Klein |

There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures, and the Dutch. — Nigel Powers

Karel Davids’s new book, The Rise and Decline of Dutch Technological Leadership: Technology, Economy, and Culture in the Netherlands, 1350–1800 (Brill, 2008), provides an interesting look at knowledge flows within and between regions, an important idea in the modern literatures on economic geography and regional innovation. Writes EH.Net reviewer William TeBrake:

According to Davids, the northern Netherlands, the territory encompassed by the Dutch Republic, was the technological leader during much of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, before relinquishing that role to England by 1800, and in the process of explicating the rise and fall of Dutch technological leadership, he has called into question a number of commonplace assumptions found in the historiography of the period in question. . . .

One of the most interesting features of his study is the attention he pays to the truly remarkable concentration during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of literally hundreds of industries powered by windmills in the Zaan district, just across the IJ/harbor from Amsterdam, forcing the reader to reconsider how revolutionary the English Industrial Revolution really was. Further, there are several important areas in which he has significantly revised current understanding of the course of technology, economy, and society during the late-medieval and early-modern periods. . . . [For example], Davids makes clear that technological leadership in the Dutch Republic was much less tied to economic advancement than is usually assumed. Indeed, the Republic’s technological leadership began to peak only when the economy of the Dutch Republic already had begun to decline, during the late seventeenth century, and such leadership continued for another century thereafter, before giving way to England only after 1780. Finally, Davids makes a compelling case for locating the causes of technological leadership (and its decline) not only in market forces but also in institutional and cultural conditions, including the relative openness or secrecy of economic, cultural, and political life.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, Innovation.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rafe  |  24 March 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Did someone say that the Dutch are like the Germans, but without the sense of humour, or was that the Belgians?

  • 2. Bart  |  25 March 2009 at 5:15 am

    Just imagine a Dutch person trying to respond to that comment, Rafe.

  • 3. Bart  |  25 March 2009 at 5:18 am

    Btw, what’s with the pic, is it hobbit?

  • 4. REW  |  25 March 2009 at 11:28 am

    Not a hobbit, just a Peter Klein (oblique) cultural subreference.

  • 5. Peter Klein  |  25 March 2009 at 5:07 pm



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