Abstract: Technical Networks at Schneider
Although knowledge may be considered a public good, it is not a free one. Technical information is often seen as an immaterial good, but it is supported by material objects such as professional papers, exhibitions, and patents. My hypothesis is that all the objects and actors supporting technical knowledge comprise a technical information network. I look at the Schneider Company, a large French firm, to understand how it fit into such a network at the beginning of the twentieth century. Schneider employed engineers who paid attention to technological developments, had patent agents charged with providing information, and created an organization of innovation through new laboratories. The firm controlled this technical information network because all these agents interacted within a social network. Schneider's innovation system reflects, in some ways, the evolution of French innovation generally.