The Political Reception of Innovations

48 Pages Posted: 18 May 2021

Date Written: May 17, 2021


Why do some societies embrace innovative technologies, policies, and ideas, while others are slow to adopt, or even resist, them? We focus on features of an innovation that are expected to affect the incumbent elite's economic activities, and hence the elite's reaction. The elite can choose whether to appropriate the innovation for itself; encourage its adoption; tax, regulate, or limit or block it. Six features of the innovation affect the elite response: i) whether it is easy to replicate; ii) whether it complements or competes with the elite's sources of income; iii) whether its impact is broad or narrow; iv) whether it is loca- tion-dependent, and v) concealable; vi) whether it requires large xed costs. Some of these factors have been considered in other work; here we assess them together. We provide illustrative evidence of the relevance and generality of the model to understand the fate of a variety of innovations.

Keywords: innovation, regulation, rent-seeking

JEL Classification: D72, L50, O30

Suggested Citation

Frieden, Jeffry and Silve, Arthur, The Political Reception of Innovations (May 17, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jeffry Frieden (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Arthur Silve

Université Laval ( email )

1025 avenue des sciences-humaines
Québec, QC G1V 0A6
4186562131 (Phone)
4186562131 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://

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