lunes, 27 de agosto de 2012

J.A. Schumpeter (desde su biografía - 12)


“Thus, a new firm’s intrusion into an existing industry always entails “warring with an ‘old’ sphere,” which tries to prohibit, discredit, or otherwise restrict the advantage afforded to the new firm by its innovation. But whatever may happen in a particular case, every entrepreneur´s high profit is temporary, because competitors will copy the innovation, causing market prices to fall. This sequence of cutting prices, which Schumpeter calls “competing down,” is observable in all industries except those protected by government monopoly. Competing down may take several years and is often hard for contemporaries to se. But one way or another, competing down always happens, and it is why Schumpeter seldom worried about price-fixing by monopolies, other than those sponsored or propped up by governments (as many firms had been in the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Having laid out his basic model of capitalist behavior, Schumpeter proceeds to deluge the reader with historical examples. He begins with the origins of the factory system in Britain, the first major nation to industrialize. In the late 1500S, he writes, a few British entrepreneurs systematically cut their productions costs so that they could reduce their selling prices. Lower prices stimulated demand and enabled producers to manufacture in larger volume and to distribute their products more widely. Over the long term, the new factory system flourished beyond the dreams of its proponents. It gathered large numbers of workers into one place, set uniform standards for quality, and divided production into separate steps performed by specialists –al under the discipline of the clock. [Nota al pie:] “Schumpeter does not give it sufficient emphasis, but the use of the clock was a vital innovation in successive industrial revolutions. Rather than using sun time and toiling sporadically at home, workers gathered in one place and labored together under a rigid schedule. Even outside the factory, the clock changed the way people thought about life in general."

Schumpeter was careful to point out that the factory system introduced more efficient production even into “old industries” such as textiles. The shift from home spinning and weaving to mechanized production of cloth was so profound that it launched the first industrial revolution (1760-1840). Consumer’s demand for affordable factory-made cloth turned out to be almost unlimited. Men could now have not just one or two shirts and pairs of pants but sis o seven; women, not just a few dresses and blouses but many. And –very significantly- the new cotton clothing could be washed frequently unlike woolens.

The factory system modernized many other existing industries. In iron and steel, bigger furnaces facilitated “production on a large scale of standardized intermediate goods, such as ingots, sheets, rods, and wire.” Factories increased he output of a wide range of products: metalwork made of copper and brass, paper made in mills “driven by water wheels… potteries, sugar refineries… glass, soap, and gunpowder factories, and salt-boiling establishments.” Factories triggered a new era in British economic life, raising the overall standard of living and bringing fortunes for entrepreneurs.”

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