Boundary Institutions for Reconciliation of Academic Chemistry to Industry: Germany vs. The United States

38 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011

See all articles by Tom Scheiding

Tom Scheiding

Department of Economics; University of Wisconsin - Stout; Franklin & Marshall College; Franklin and Marshall College; Elizabethtown College

Date Written: February 1, 2011


During the interwar period the science support system in the United States changed dramatically. One of these changes occurred as an expansion in the scale and scope of scholarly societies in the sciences, and the major site of innovation happened in chemistry. This expansion was motivated, in part, by the need to bridge the divide between academic and industrial research so that both could encourage the growth of the other. To compare and contrast such developments in the US and Germany, I start with the notion of a “boundary object.” In Germany in the years leading up to WW I, innovations in the relationship between the state, academia and industry fostered the development of a boundary institution in the format of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft and later the Liebig, Baeyer, and Fischer Societies where there was a promotion of an academic-industrial symbiosis. The comparable boundary institution in the United States, the Chemical Foundation, played a crucial role in stabilizing the framework needed to achieve an academic-industrial symbiosis after WW I. This discussion not only expands our understanding of the Chemical Foundation’s role in re-shaping chemistry in the early 20th century, but also highlights the differences by which Germany and the United States achieved a working academic-industrial symbiosis prior to World War II.

Keywords: research patronage, funding for chemical research

JEL Classification: N32, N62

Suggested Citation

Scheiding, Tom, Boundary Institutions for Reconciliation of Academic Chemistry to Industry: Germany vs. The United States (February 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Tom Scheiding (Contact Author)

Department of Economics ( email )

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University of Wisconsin - Stout ( email )

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Franklin & Marshall College

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Franklin and Marshall College ( email )

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Elizabethtown College ( email )

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Elizabethtown, PA 17022
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