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The Return to Independent Invention: Evidence of Unrealistic Optimism, Risk Seeking or Skewness Loving?

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  • Thomas Astebro

    (University of Waterloo)

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    Abstract

    Examining a sample of 1,091 inventions I investigate the magnitude and distribution of the pretax internal rate of return (IRR) to inventive activity. The average IRR on a portfolio investment in these inventions is 11.4%. This is higher than the risk--free rate but lower than the long--run return on high--risk securities and the long--run return on early--stage venture capital funds. The portfolio IRR is significantly higher, for some ex ante identifiable classes of inventions. The distribution of return is skew: only between 7--9% reach the market. Of the 75 inventions that did, six realised returns above 1400%, 60% obtained negative returns and the median was negative. Copyright Royal Economic Society 2003.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 113 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 484 (January)
    Pages: 226-239

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    Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:113:y:2003:i:484:p:226-239

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    1. William E. Souder, 1973. "Utility and Perceived Acceptability of R&D Project Selection Models," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(12), pages 1384-1394, August.
    2. Mansfield, Edwin, et al, 1977. "Social and Private Rates of Return from Industrial Innovations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 221-40, May.
    3. Cochrane, John H., 2005. "The risk and return of venture capital," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 3-52, January.
    4. De Meza, D. & Southey, C., 1995. "The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Enterpreneurship," Discussion Papers 9502, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    5. F. M. Scherer, 1998. "The Size Distribution of Profits from Innovation," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 49-50, pages 495-516.
    6. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
    7. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    8. F. M. Scherer & Dietmar Harhoff & J, rg Kukies, 2000. "Uncertainty and the size distribution of rewards from innovation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 175-200.
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    Cited by:
    1. Verheul, I. & Carree, M.A. & Thurik, A.R., 2005. "Allocation and Productivity of Time in New Ventures of Female and Male Entrepreneurs," ERIM Report Series Research in Management 7178, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    2. Boyan Jovanovic & Balàzs Szentes, 2007. "On the Return to Venture Capital," NBER Working Papers 12874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Koellinger, Ph.D. & Treffers, T., 2012. "Joy leads to Overconfidence, and a Simple Remedy," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2012-001-STR, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
    4. Thomas Astebro & Peter Thompson, 2007. "Entrepreneurs: Jacks of all Trades or Hobos?," Working Papers 0705, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
    5. Baumol, William J., 2007. "On income distribution and growth," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 545-548.
    6. Davis, Lee N. & Davis, Jerome & Hoisl, Karin, 2009. "What Inspires Leisure Time Invention?," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 10457, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    7. Gambardella, Alfonso, 2013. "The economic value of patented inventions: Thoughts and some open questions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 626-633.
    8. Meyer, Martin, 2006. "Are patenting scientists the better scholars?: An exploratory comparison of inventor-authors with their non-inventing peers in nano-science and technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1646-1662, December.
    9. Mata, José & Woerter, Martin, 2013. "Risky innovation: The impact of internal and external R&D strategies upon the distribution of returns," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 495-501.

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