The Organization of R&D in American Corporations: The Determinants and Consequences of Decentralization
AbstractWe study the relationship between decentralization of R&D, innovation and firm performance using a novel dataset on the organizational structure of 1,290 American publicly-listed corporations, 2,615 of their affiliate firms, as well as characteristics of 594,903 patents that they hold. We explore the tension between centralization and decentralization of R&D, which trades off between responsiveness to immediate and local business needs and the type of research that can benefit the firm as a whole. To do this, we develop two novel measures of decentralization. First, using intra-firm patent assignments, we distinguish between patents that are assigned to the inventing unit rather than to corporate headquarters. Second, we exploit the variation between firms which posses a central corporate R&D labs and those that do not. We find that centralized R&D tends be more scientific, broader in scope, and have more technical impact, while being more likely in firms that operate within a narrower range of businesses, in complex technologies, or that are less reliant upon acquisitions. Additionally, we find that firms with a more decentralized structure, on average, invest less in R&D, generate fewer patents per R&D, and exhibit greater sales growth and higher market value. We discuss several theories that can explain these relationships, as well as potential avenues for future research.
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Date of creation: May 2011
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
- O32 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-05-30 (All new papers)
- NEP-INO-2011-05-30 (Innovation)
- NEP-IPR-2011-05-30 (Intellectual Property Rights)
- NEP-MIC-2011-05-30 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-PPM-2011-05-30 (Project, Program & Portfolio Management)
- NEP-TID-2011-05-30 (Technology & Industrial Dynamics)
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