Tracing technological change over long periods in Germany in chemicals using patent statistics.
This contribution deepens the feasibility issues of building state-of-the-art patent indicators with historical patent documents available in electronic form from the German Patent Office since the introduction of the Patent Law for the German Empire in 1877. The paper is divided into two parts: a methodological discussion and a case study on the chemical sector in Germany. The development of the technology sector defined matches remarkably well with stylised facts that institutional analysis in the chemical sector have provided us with so far. Moreover, the possibility of varying the level of aggregation in the analysis of technological areas discloses empirical evidence for the path-dependent development in the chemical sector after the advent of the organic chemistry and its application in the chemical synthesis of dye stuffs. Our findings enhance institutional and historical contributions about technological change in the chemical sector and suggest new research questions for innovation studies.