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Causes, Consequences and Dynamics of 'Complex' Distributions of Technological Activities: The Case of Prolific Inventors

Listed author(s):
  • William Latham

    ()

    (Department of Economics,University of Delaware)

  • Christian Le Bas

    ()

    (Department of Economics,University Lumière Lyon 2)

We provide a framework for understanding the causes and consequences of the observed shapes of the distributions of individual inventors' productivities. We review a literature that begins with Lotka's (1926) "law" regarding the persistence of variability in scientific productivity at any point in time and also over time. We discuss use of the "power law" and the Pareto distribution to describe and explain the empirical distributions. We focus on the upper parts of the frequency distributions for inventors exploring the processes underlying knowledge accumulation at the individual level, including its features, characteristics, and structural trends. Finally we explore the specific processes by which these individuals create, maintain, and increase knowledge accumulation as their careers evolve.

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File URL: http://graduate.lerner.udel.edu/sites/default/files/ECON/PDFs/RePEc/dlw/WorkingPapers/2010/UDWP2010-02.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Delaware, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 10-02.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Publication status: Published in Handbook on The Economic Complexity of Technological Change, Cristiano Antonelli (ed.), Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2011.
Handle: RePEc:dlw:wpaper:10-02.
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Purnell Hall, Newark, Delaware 19716

Phone: (302) 831-2565
Fax: (302) 831-6968
Web page: http://lerner.udel.edu/departments/economics/department-economics/

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  1. Kretschmer, Hildrun & Kretschmer, Theo, 2007. "Lotka's distribution and distribution of co-author pairs’ frequencies," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 308-337.
  2. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Maximo Torero, 2002. "Labor Mobility from Academe to Commerce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 629-660, July.
  3. William R. Latham & C. Gay & Christian LeBas, 2005. "Collective Knowledge, Prolific Inventors and the Value of Inventions: An Empirical Study of French, German and British Owned U.S. Patents, 1975-1998," Working Papers 05-16, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  4. Stephan, Paula E., 2010. "The Economics of Science," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
  5. Gerald Marschke & Jinyoung Kim & Sangjoon John Lee, 2004. "Research Scientist Productivity and Firm Size: Evidence from Panel Data on Investors," Discussion Papers 04-06, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  6. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-132, March.
  7. John Sutton, 1997. "Gibrat's Legacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 40-59, March.
  8. David, Paul A., 1994. "Why are institutions the 'carriers of history'?: Path dependence and the evolution of conventions, organizations and institutions," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 205-220, December.
  9. Reed, William J., 2001. "The Pareto, Zipf and other power laws," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 15-19, December.
  10. Narin, Francis & Breitzman, Anthony, 1995. "Inventive productivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 507-519, July.
  11. Bas, Christian Le & Sierra, Christophe, 2002. "'Location versus home country advantages' in R&D activities: some further results on multinationals' locational strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 589-609, May.
  12. G. Bottazzi & E. Cefis & G. Dosi & A. Secchi, 2007. "Invariances and Diversities in the Patterns of Industrial Evolution: Some Evidence from Italian Manufacturing Industries," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 137-159, June.
  13. Naldi, M., 2003. "Concentration indices and Zipf's law," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 329-334, March.
  14. O. S. Klass & O. Biham & M. Levy & O. Malcai & S. Solomon, 2007. "The Forbes 400, the Pareto power-law and efficient markets," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 55(2), pages 143-147, 01.
  15. Metcalfe, J S, 1995. "Technology Systems and Technology Policy in an Evolutionary Framework," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 25-46, February.
  16. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin, 2007. "Institutionalized incentives for ingenuity--Patent value and the German Employees' Inventions Act," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1143-1162, October.
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