Global competition and cooperation in the electronics industry: the case of X-ray equipment, 1900–1970
Pierre-Yves Donzé and
Scandinavian Economic History Review, 2019, vol. 67, issue 2, 210-225
The electronics industry is often regarded by scholars as an example of a sector driven by endless technological innovation and major competition between a few large companies, thus embodying the common view whereby the free market leads firms to innovate. On the other hand, some business historians have also emphasised that, since the beginning of the twentieth century, most of these companies were engaged in various international cartel agreements. The business and economic history literature on this industry reveals a clear-cut divide between the inter-war years and the post-war era. In this paper, however, we argue that technical and commercial cooperation between large electronics companies continued in various forms despite the spread of anti-trust policies after 1945. In this case study, we explore the global X-ray equipment industry from its beginnings around 1900 to the advent of the CT scanner in the early 1970s. The paper focuses on Siemens and Philips, the two largest manufacturers of radiological equipment. It demonstrates that both companies pursued their commercial and technical cooperation at least until the 1970s, although it was much less overt as during the interwar years.
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