Abstract: Lowell's Industrial Regeneration: Dynamic Technological Capabilities

Michael H. Best


In this paper, I tell a story of Lowell, Massachusetts not as a textile city, but as part of a multi-industry, high-tech region with a technology genealogy that goes back to the early days of the state as an instrument-making region. I attempt to define, make operational, and measure the concept of dynamic technological capabilities at both the enterprise and regional levels. Capabilities are what enable firms to create new products and processes in response to new market opportunities. By building a database of technology producers in the Lowell area we can infer the cumulative process by which technological capabilities are developed over time. The database of enterprises includes product portfolio and employment for the period from 1986 to the present and, most important, the date of enterprise founding. I also tell a post-textile story about the industrial dynamics of the Lowell region and focus attention on firms and technologies that are obscured by standard industrial classification codes.

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