Using Industrial Patronage to Manage Growth and Change in American Physics

47 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 both the quantity and quality of scholarly research in the sciences conducted within the United States increased dramatically. Besides an expansion in the scale of research produced and change in its quality, there was a rapid commercialization of research in the sciences. An essential ingredient to making these changes possible in the sciences was an efficient and scalable scholarly society. These trends were all perhaps most evident in the discipline of physics. Creating such a scholarly society requires funding and oversight with both being provided by the Chemical Foundation. The interaction between the Chemical Foundation and physicists, mediated through the formation of the American Institute of Physics, yielded a scholarly community that embraced an academic-industrial symbiosis and set the stage for a discipline able to accommodate dramatic growth and change after WW II. This discussion not only reveals the extent to which industry indirectly imposed itself through the Chemical Foundation on a scholarly society previously considered the product of a theoretical community, but also expands the limited understanding we have of the Chemical Foundation in an era of shifting funding priorities, motivations, and actors.

Keywords: industrial patronage, research in physics

JEL Classification: N32, N62

Suggested Citation

Scheiding, Tom, Using Industrial Patronage to Manage Growth and Change in American Physics (February 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Tom Scheiding (Contact Author)

Department of Economics ( email )

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University of Wisconsin - Stout ( email )

Menomonie , WI 54751
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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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