Technological Innovation in Industrial Districts in Spain During the First Third of the 20th Century


  • José Antonio Miranda Encarnación Universidad de Alicante
  • Borja Monaño Universidad de Alicante



industrial districts, technological innovation, patents, economic history


The aim of this study is to determine whether the high level of technological innovation detected in Spain’s industrial districts is, as the theory states, an intrinsic characteristic of these districts that was present in all stages of their evolution. To that end, and using figures on the number of patents filed, the trajectory of innovation is analysed for the 1878-1935 period for ten of the main industrial districts in Spain that had already become industrial districts in the early 20th century. The result supports the thesis that the capacity to innovate is an essential characteristic of industrial districts and clusters, but also shows that there were large differences between them in their propensity to innovate, linked to differences in human capital, sectoral specialisation and proximity to environments with a higher level of technological knowledge, among other factors.