Emergence of Research And Innovation Activities in The Chemical Industry at The Beginning of The Twentieth Century: The Case of IG Farben and Du Pont

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018

Thesis Language: English


Supervisor: İbrahim Semih Akçomak


In the 19th Century, after constant investments by governments and private sector to Chemical industry, Germany and the USA rised in terms of technological leadership, technological infrastructure and human capital for a long period. In these countries, there had been their own unique National Systems of Innovation. Thanks to this process, two giant chemical firms – IG Farben in Germany and DuPont in the US have come to existence. Each of these firms had successful innovation paths throughout their history. Their innovation performance in synthetic chemicals clearly demonstrates the vital importance of a sound, solid National Innovation System. However, coming to the 1940s, it is striking to see how these two giant technology firms entered into the service of political/bureaucratic authorities and how science and technology were affected by these circumstances. Therefore, the dissertation argues that two cases are different in three main aspects: research design of companies (centralized v vs. decentralized decision making), policy differences (applied vs. fundamental research), and driving forces of research (market-driven vs. science-driven research). The principal purpose of the dissertation is to clarify these points. The first aim is to understand and then describe similarities and differences via analyzing innovation and learning process in IG Farben and DuPont between 1925 and 1945. The second aim is to explain the patterns of innovation and learning for innovation and technology studies with the help of comparative historical case study. Therefore, the dissertation predominantly focuses on pre-war and war periods to shed light on the effects of authoritive figures on chemical sector during the war period. Innovation activities of both firms during the war period will be examined in detail with the assistance of archival data and historical documents.