David A. Hounshell-Engineering and Public Policy - Carnegie Mellon University

David A. Hounshell

Professor, Social and Decision Sciences, Engineering and Public Policy

Department of Social and Decision Sciences
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Office: Porter Hall 219G
Phone: (412) 268-1019
Research Interests: Technological and organizational innovation; technology policy; industrial research and development; university-industry relationships; regional economic development; history of science, technology, business, and engineering.


  • Carnegie Mellon 1991-
Trained in both engineering and history, Professor Hounshell studies innovation at the intersection of science, technology, and industry. His work includes extensive studies of industrial research and development, the development of manufacturing technology in the United States, and the role of independent inventors and entrepreneurs in the development of technology. 

He has recently served on a panel of the National Research Council that evaluated the effects of government research funding on the development of computer science and technology. He directs a NSF-funded graduate research and training program on understanding the role of the Cold War in shaping the content and nature of science and technology.

Hounshell is the author of the award-winning books, From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States, and (with John Kenly Smith, Jr.) Science and Corporate Strategy: Du Pont: Du Pont R&D, 1902-1980. He is currently working on a sequel to the first book and also a history of the RAND Corporation from its creation to the end of the Cold War.


  • Ph.D. (History), University of Delaware, 1978
  • M.A. (History), University of Delaware, 1975
  • B.S. (Electrical Engineering), Southern Methodist University, 1972


  1. D. Hounshell, "Measuring the Return on Investment in R&D: Voices from the Past; Visions of the Future," in T. Dunning (ed.), Assessing the Value of Research in the Chemical Sciences [provisional title], Board of Chemical Sciences and Technology, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC., 1998.
  2. D. Hounshell, "The Medium is the Message, or How Context Matters: The RAND Corporation Builds an Economics of Innovation, 1946-1962," in T. P. Hughes and A. Hughes (eds.), Systems, Experts, and Computers, MIT Press and the Dibner Institute, 2000.
  3. D. Hounshell, "Assets, Organizations, Strategies, and Traditions: Organizational Capabilities and Constraints in the Remaking of Ford Motor Company, 1946-1961," in P. Temin, N. Lamoreaux and D. Raff (eds.), Creating Asymmetries by Actions Between Firms, University of Chicago Press and the National Bureau of Economic Research, Chicago, 1998.