Nuclear power and learning processes: the role of Westinghouse and General Electric in the Spanish experience (c. 1955-1973)


  • Joseba de la Torre Universidad Pública de Navarra
  • María del Mar Rubio Universidad Pública de Navarra



nuclear energy, know-how, technology transfer, learning process


This article explores the learning and technology transfer processes that placed Spain among the firstcomers of nuclear energy in the late 1960s. It is an example of a infantindustry that, under the protection of the State and the action of the business consortiums and of the North American multinationals, was able to replicate a complex technological challenge. We analyzed how an entrepreneurial ecosystem was created in which the leadership of some engineers and the cooperation and competition between industries, engineering and consultants were key. The business history of the Zorita and Garoña nuclear power plants exemplifies a model of learning by doing that, through turnkey contracts, allowed a rapid growth of the sector, convincing the dictatorship government and the electric promoters that it was possible to carry out one of the most ambitious nuclear programs in Western Europe.