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Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?


  • Rosenberg, Nathan


AbstractThe question to be addressed is: Why do private firms perform basic research with their own money? Interest in this question derives from both analytical and utilitarian considerations. There is empirical evidence in the United States, which provides the main context for this paper. Supporting the view that basic research makes a significant contribution to the productivity growth of the economy [4,7]. It is widely held that social returns from basic research are significant and higher than private returns and it is for this reason that most such activities continue to be financed by the taxpayer. This also implies that measures aimed at increasing basic research by the private sector will be welfare improving. In the United States, the federal government in the years since the Second World War has provided the vast majority of all funds devoted to basic research. Although the federal share has been declining in recent years, and although that share is at its lowest level in about 20 years, it still constitutes about two-thirds of the total [10]…
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Suggested Citation

  • Rosenberg, Nathan, 1990. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 165-174, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:19:y:1990:i:2:p:165-174

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Barras, Richard, 1986. "Towards a theory of innovation in services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 161-173, August.
    3. Winter, Sidney G., 1984. "Schumpeterian competition in alternative technological regimes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 287-320.
    4. 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.
    5. Pavitt, Keith, 1984. "Sectoral patterns of technical change: Towards a taxonomy and a theory," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 343-373, December.
    6. Utterback, James M & Abernathy, William J, 1975. "A dynamic model of process and product innovation," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 3(6), pages 639-656, December.
    7. Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1993. "In search of useful theory of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 108-108, April.
    8. Hannan, Timothy H & McDowell, John M, 1984. "Market Concentration and the Diffusion of New Technology in the Banking Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(4), pages 686-691, November.
    9. Davies, Stephen W., 1979. "Inter-firm diffusion of process innovations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 299-317, October.
    10. Cainarca, Gian Carlo & Colombo, Massimo G. & Mariotti, Sergio, 1989. "An evolutionary pattern of innovation diffusion. The case of flexible automation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 59-86, April.
    11. Barras, Richard, 1990. "Interactive innovation in financial and business services: The vanguard of the service revolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 215-237, June.
    12. Hannan, Timothy H & McDowell, John M, 1987. "Rival Precedence and the Dynamics of Technology Adoption: An Empirical Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(214), pages 155-171, May.
    13. Heggestad, Arnold A, 1977. "Market Structure, Risk and Profitability in Commercial Banking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1207-1216, September.
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    JEL classification:

    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation


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