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An Exploration into the Determinants of Research Intensity

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  • Ariel Pakes
  • Mark Schankerman

Abstract

This paper explores the economic factors which determine the variation of research effort across firms. The intra-industry coefficient of variation of research intensity is much larger than those of traditional factors. We show that this important fact is consistent with the theoretical argument that knowledge possesses unique economic characteristics, and that the demand for research depends both on the parameters of the production function for knowledge and on the ability of the firm to appropriate the benefits from the knowledge it produces. We propose and implement a framework for decomposing the observed intra-industry variance In research intensity into three components: demand inducement, a firm-specific structural parameter, and errors in the observed variables. The main empirical findings are that errors in the variables (especially research) are important, that very little of the structural variance in research intensity is accounted for by demand inducement, and that the bulk of the variance is related to differences in the firm-specific parameter. Both the theoretical and empirical analysis indicate that it is not reasonable to treat the demand for research in a manner analogous to the demand for traditional inputs, including capital. Substantially richer models are required to provide insight into the structure of incentives driving the demand for research.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0438.

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Date of creation: Jan 1980
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Publication status: published as Pakes, Ariel and Mark Schnkerman. "An Exploration into the Determinants of Research Intensity." R&D, Patents and Productivity, edited by Zvi Griliches .Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (1984).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0438

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  1. Jora R. Minasian, 1962. "The Economics of Research and Development," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 93-142 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
  3. 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.
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