Abstract: Creating an Agricultural Research Network: Irradiation of Plants with Artificial Light at Philips Research in the 1930s

Kees Boersma


This paper tells the story of a networking activity of Philips' researchers in the inter-war period. Holst, the director of Philips Research (in Dutch: Natuurkundig Laboratorium) at the time, became involved in an agricultural research network with partners from the universities, the Dutch government, standardization committees, and growers. Building upon social-network and organization theories, I show that this activity was an opportunity for the Physics Lab researchers to keep in touch with scientific circles. Philips offered money and knowledge to Johannes Roodenburg, a biologist, who initiated the network-activities by starting research programs on artificial lighting of plants. As a result of the economic crisis and disappointing sales results, Holst cut back financial support at the end of the 1930s. It was only after the Second World War that Philips gave agricultural research a renewed impetus, but within a new research-context.

BEH On-Line Paper