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How ’Open ’ is Innovation in the US and Japan?: Evidence from the RIETI-Georgia Tech inventor survey

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  • John P. Walsh
  • Sadao Nagaoka

Abstract

While individual inventors are key to technological progress, it is becoming increasingly necessary for inventors and their firms to exploit information and capabilities outside the firm in order to combine one's own resources with resources from the external environment. To better understand the collaborative process in inventions, we collected detailed information on a sample of triadic patents, focusing on the invention process, sources of ideas, and collaboration (the RIETI-Georgia Tech inventor survey), with over 1900 responses from the US and over 3600 responses from Japan. Our results suggest that in both countries, just over 10% of inventions involved an external co-inventor and about 30% involved external (non-co-inventor) collaborators (with the rate of collaboration somewhat higher in Japan). Cross-organizational co-inventions increase as firm size declines, especially in Japan. In both countries, vertical collaborations (both co-inventions and other collaborations) with users and suppliers were the most common. The most important knowledge sources were similar in the two countries: patents, customers, publications, and information from other parts of the firm, although their relative rankings varied somewhat. In particular, patent literature is a relatively more important information source in Japan and scientific literature is relatively more important in the US. Since our evidence suggest that inventors see literature globally, such difference does not seem to be driven by the difference of the disclosed literature (for an example, more early patent disclosure in Japan) as suggested by earlier literature but by that of the incentive and capability of the inventors. While in both countries most R&D funding is provided internally, venture capital and government funding play a greater role in the US than in Japan, with venture capital funds especially important for the smallest US firms. On the other hand, industry funding plays a greater role for university researchers' inventions in Japan. There is some evidence that "open innovation" through collaborations enhances not only the technical significance of the invention, but also the probability of its commercialization through, for an example, vertical collaboration facilitating better matches between the needs of customers or the capabilities of suppliers.

Suggested Citation

  • John P. Walsh & Sadao Nagaoka, 2009. "How ’Open ’ is Innovation in the US and Japan?: Evidence from the RIETI-Georgia Tech inventor survey," Discussion papers 09022, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  • Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:09022
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Janusz A. Ordover, 1991. "A Patent System for Both Diffusion and Exclusion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
    2. Thursby, Jerry & Fuller, Anne W. & Thursby, Marie, 2009. "US faculty patenting: Inside and outside the university," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 14-25, February.
    3. Giuri, Paola & Mariani, Myriam & Brusoni, Stefano & Crespi, Gustavo & Francoz, Dominique & Gambardella, Alfonso & Garcia-Fontes, Walter & Geuna, Aldo & Gonzales, Raul & Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin, 2007. "Inventors and invention processes in Europe: Results from the PatVal-EU survey," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1107-1127, October.
    4. John Hagedoorn, 2003. "Sharing intellectual property rights--an exploratory study of joint patenting amongst companies," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(5), pages 1035-1050, October.
    5. Fontana, Roberto & Geuna, Aldo, 2009. "The Nature of Collaborative Patenting Activities," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 200910, University of Turin.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peng Huang & Marco Ceccagnoli & Chris Forman & D.J. Wu, 2009. "Participation in a Platform Ecosystem: Appropriability, Competition, and Access to the Installed Base," Working Papers 09-14, NET Institute, revised Sep 2009.
    2. Bronwyn Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2014. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(2), pages 375-423, June.
    3. Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2012. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Literature Review," NBER Working Papers 17983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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