Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 122: PRIVATE AND PUBLIC INTERESTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EARLY SWEDISH COMPUTER INDUSTRY

Tom Petersson
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Tom Petersson: Uppsala University

Abstract: This paper describes the establishment and development of the Swedish computer industry from World War II to the early 1970s, and illuminates the mutually beneficial relationship between public (state) interests and private interests, the latter understood as private enterprises. In this lengthy process, two rather dissimilar interests eventually merged into one. The public, or state, interest was primarily motivated by security policy and military considerations, as the Post-War period gradually turned into the Cold War. Sweden was, from this perspective dependent on the transfer of American technology and know-how. More downright profit-interests were, obviously, the prime incentives for the private enterprises to get invested in the new business of computers and computer power. This study focuses primarily on Facit’s actions and role in this development, partly due to the fact that both the role of governmental initiatives and of the other private enterprise, Saab, has previously been the subject of extensive research. The sources for this study are mainly internal memos and business correspondence from the Facit enterprise.

Keywords: computer industry; Sweden; innovation system; public interests; private interests

JEL-codes: N00; O25

25 pages, April 2, 2008

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