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Appropriability of technical innovations an empirical analysis

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  • Harabi, Najib

Abstract

Appropriating the economic returns from technical innovations is very important for individual inventors and innovators, as well as for technical change in individual markets and for the whole economy. Since appropriability is difficult to measure directly, many researchers have been trying to investigate it indirectly and qualitatively by examining the effectiveness of various means of appropriability. The most important of these means are patents, secrecy and lead time and related advantages. The purpose of this paper is to investigate empirically the effectiveness of different means of protecting the competitive advantages of technical innovations in Switzerland. The analysis is based on a survey conducted in 1988 among 358 Swiss experts, mainly R&D executives from selected firms. They represented 127 different lines of business, mainly in the manufacturing sector. The results can be summarized as follows: 1. For process innovations lead time is generally considered as the most effective means of appropnability. For product innovations superior sales and service efforts are viewed as the most effective means, followed by lead time. 2. For both product and process innovations patents are generally considered to be the least effective means of appropriability. 3. Patents as a means of appropnability in the Swiss context are only effective in a few industries: in chemicals, including drugs, and in some cases in the machinery and electrotechnics industries. 4. The ability of competitors to "invent around" patented innovations and the perception that patent documents require "disclosure of too much information" are considered as the most important constraints on the effectiveness of patents. 5. Inventors and innovators have manifold reasons for patenting their new ideas. Although patents may not provide adequate protection against imitation, they can contribute to enhancing the patent-holders' negotiating position towards third parties. This can be

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 24 (1995)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 981-992

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:24:y:1995:i:6:p:981-992

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References

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  1. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Harabi, Najib, 1991. "Einflussfaktoren von Forschung und Entwicklung in der Schweizer Industrie: Ergebnisse einer schriftlichen Expertenbefragung
    [Determinants of Research and Development in the Swiss Industry: Results
    ," MPRA Paper 26213, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Kitch, Edmund W, 1977. "The Nature and Function of the Patent System," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 265-90, October.
  4. Janusz A. Ordover, 1991. "A Patent System for Both Diffusion and Exclusion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
  5. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  6. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
  7. Teece, David J., 1986. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 285-305, December.
  8. Levin, Richard C, 1986. "A New Look at the Patent System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 199-202, May.
  9. Cohen, Wesley M. & Levin, Richard C., 1989. "Empirical studies of innovation and market structure," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 18, pages 1059-1107 Elsevier.
  10. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
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