IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/inm/ormnsc/v47y2001i1p117-132.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search

Author

Listed:
  • Lee Fleming

    (Harvard University, Graduate School of Business, Morgan Hall T97, Boston, Massachusetts 02163)

Abstract

While the course of technological change is widely accepted to be highly uncertain and unpredictable, little work has identified or studied the ultimate sources and causes of that uncertainty. This paper proposes that purely technological uncertainty derives from inventors' search processes with unfamiliar components and component combinations. Experimentation with new components and new combinations leads to less useful inventions on average, but it also implies an increase in the variability that can result in both failure and breakthrough. Negative binomial count and dispersion models with patent citation data demonstrate that new combinations are indeed more variable. In contrast to predictions, however, the reuse of components has a nonmonotonic and eventually positive effect on variability.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:47:y:2001:i:1:p:117-132
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.47.1.117.10671
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.47.1.117.10671
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1287/mnsc.47.1.117.10671?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Henderson, Rebecca, 1995. "Of life cycles real and imaginary: The unexpectedly long old age of optical lithography," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 631-643, July.
    2. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    3. Eric D. Darr & Linda Argote & Dennis Epple, 1995. "The Acquisition, Transfer, and Depreciation of Knowledge in Service Organizations: Productivity in Franchises," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(11), pages 1750-1762, November.
    4. Cameron, A Colin & Trivedi, Pravin K, 1986. "Econometric Models Based on Count Data: Comparisons and Applications of Some Estimators and Tests," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 29-53, January.
    5. Fleming, Lee & Sorenson, Olav, 2001. "Technology as a complex adaptive system: evidence from patent data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1019-1039, August.
    6. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-938, July.
    7. Clark, Kim B., 1985. "The interaction of design hierarchies and market concepts in technological evolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 235-251, October.
    8. Vernon W. Ruttan, 1959. "Usher and Schumpeter on Invention, Innovation, and Technological Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 596-606.
    9. Sahal, Devendra, 1985. "Technological guideposts and innovation avenues," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 61-82, April.
    10. Cameron, A Colin & Windmeijer, Frank A G, 1996. "R-Squared Measures for Count Data Regression Models with Applications to Health-Care Utilization," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(2), pages 209-220, April.
    11. Albert, M. B. & Avery, D. & Narin, F. & McAllister, P., 1991. "Direct validation of citation counts as indicators of industrially important patents," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 251-259, June.
    12. Klepper, Steven, 1997. "Industry Life Cycles," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 145-181.
    13. Levinthal, Daniel A, 1998. "The Slow Pace of Rapid Technological Change: Gradualism and Punctuation in Technological Change," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 217-247, June.
    14. Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson & Adam Jaffe, 1997. "University Versus Corporate Patents: A Window On The Basicness Of Invention," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 19-50.
    15. Scherer, F. M. & Harhoff, Dietmar, 2000. "Technology policy for a world of skew-distributed outcomes," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 559-566, April.
    16. Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
    17. Linda Argote & Sara L. Beckman & Dennis Epple, 1990. "The Persistence and Transfer of Learning in Industrial Settings," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(2), pages 140-154, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gino Cattani, 2005. "Preadaptation, Firm Heterogeneity, and Technological Performance: A Study on the Evolution of Fiber Optics, 1970–1995," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(6), pages 563-580, December.
    2. Murmann, Johann Peter & Frenken, Koen, 2006. "Toward a systematic framework for research on dominant designs, technological innovations, and industrial change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 925-952, September.
    3. David H. Hsu & Kwanghui Lim, 2014. "Knowledge Brokering and Organizational Innovation: Founder Imprinting Effects," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(4), pages 1134-1153, August.
    4. Wu, Jianfeng & Shanley, Mark T., 2009. "Knowledge stock, exploration, and innovation: Research on the United States electromedical device industry," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 474-483, April.
    5. Battke, Benedikt & Schmidt, Tobias S. & Stollenwerk, Stephan & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2016. "Internal or external spillovers—Which kind of knowledge is more likely to flow within or across technologies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 27-41.
    6. Mary Tripsas, 2008. "Customer preference discontinuities: a trigger for radical technological change," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2-3), pages 79-97.
    7. Feng Zhang & Guohua Jiang, 2019. "Combination of Complementary Technological Knowledge to Generate “Hard to Imitate” Technologies," Journal of Information & Knowledge Management (JIKM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(02), pages 1-24, June.
    8. Ron Adner & Daniel Levinthal, 2001. "Demand Heterogeneity and Technology Evolution: Implications for Product and Process Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(5), pages 611-628, May.
    9. Yuzhe Miao & Robert M. Salomon & Jaeyong Song, 2021. "Learning from Technologically Successful Peers: The Convergence of Asian Laggards to the Technology Frontier," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(1), pages 210-232, January.
    10. VAN DEN OORD, Ad & VAN WITTELOOSTUIJN, Arjen & DUYSTERS, Geert & GILSING, Victor, 2010. "The ecology of technology: An empirical study of US biotechnology patents from 1976 to 2003," ACED Working Papers 2010008, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    11. Anindya Ghosh & Xavier Martin & Johannes M. Pennings & Filippo Carlo Wezel, 2014. "Ambition Is Nothing Without Focus: Compensating for Negative Transfer of Experience in R&D," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 25(2), pages 572-590, April.
    12. Yang, Hongyan & Steensma, H. Kevin, 2014. "When do firms rely on their knowledge spillover recipients for guidance in exploring unfamiliar knowledge?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1496-1507.
    13. Maryann Feldman & Dieter Kogler & David Rigby, 2013. "rKnowledge: The Spatial Diffusion of rDNA Methods," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1311, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Aug 2013.
    14. He, Zi-Lin & Lim, Kwanghui & Wong, Poh-Kam, 2006. "Entry and competitive dynamics in the mobile telecommunications market," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1147-1165, October.
    15. von Wartburg, Iwan & Teichert, Thorsten & Rost, Katja, 2005. "Inventive progress measured by multi-stage patent citation analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1591-1607, December.
    16. Atul Nerkar, 2003. "Old Is Gold? The Value of Temporal Exploration in the Creation of New Knowledge," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 211-229, February.
    17. Amore, Mario Daniele & Schneider, Cédric & Žaldokas, Alminas, 2013. "Credit supply and corporate innovation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(3), pages 835-855.
    18. Dibiaggio, Ludovic & Nasiriyar, Maryam & Nesta, Lionel, 2014. "Substitutability and complementarity of technological knowledge and the inventive performance of semiconductor companies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1582-1593.
    19. Chihmao Hsieh, 2011. "Explicitly searching for useful inventions: dynamic relatedness and the costs of connecting versus synthesizing," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 86(2), pages 381-404, February.
    20. Corradini, Carlo & De Propris, Lisa, 2017. "Beyond local search: Bridging platforms and inter-sectoral technological integration," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 196-206.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:47:y:2001:i:1:p:117-132. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Matthew Walls (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.