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Scarcity of Ideas and R&D Options: Use it, Lose it, or Bank it

  • Scotchmer, Suzanne

We investigate optimal rewards in an R&D model where substitute ideas for innovation arrive to random recipients at random times. By foregoing investment in a current idea, society as a whole preserves an option to invest in a better idea for the same market niche, but with delay. Because successive ideas may occur to different people, there is a conflict between private and social optimality. We investigate the optimal policy when the social planner learns over time about the arrival rate of ideas, and when private recipients of ideas can bank their ideas for future use. We argue that private incentives to create socially valuable options can be achieved by giving higher rewards where "ideas are scarce."

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Paper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt2p5543p0.

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Date of creation: 15 Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt2p5543p0
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  1. Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
  2. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
  3. Hugo Hopenhayn & Gerard Llobet & Matthew Mitchell, 2006. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents, and Buyouts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1041-1068, December.
  4. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1989. "The timing of innovation: Research, development, and diffusion," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 849-908 Elsevier.
  5. Jay P. Choi, 1991. "Dynamic R&D Competition under "Hazard Rate" Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 596-610, Winter.
  6. Erkal, Nisvan, 2005. "The decision to patent, cumulative innovation, and optimal policy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(7-8), pages 535-562, September.
  7. Ted O'Donoghue & Suzanne Scotchmer & Jacques-François Thisse, 1998. "Patent Breadth, Patent Life, and the Pace of Technological Progress," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, 03.
  8. Weeds, H., 2000. "Strategic Delay in a Real Optimna Model of R&D Competition," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 576, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Nisvan Erkal & Suzanne Scotchmer, 2008. "Scarcity of Ideas and Options to Invest in R&D," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1035, The University of Melbourne.
  10. Matthew Mitchell, 2000. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Patents Prizes and Buyouts," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1650, Econometric Society.
  11. Vincenzo Denicolo & Luigi Alberto Franzoni, 2004. "Patents, Secrets, and the First-Inventor Defense," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 517-538, 09.
  12. David A. Malueg & Shunichi O. Tsutsui, 1997. "Dynamic R&D Competition with Learning," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 751-772, Winter.
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