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Investigating Collaborative R&D Using Patent Data: The Case Study of Robot Technology in Japan

Listed author(s):
  • Lechevalier, Sébastien
  • Ikeda, Yukio
  • Nishimura, Junichi

The growing trend of collaborative R&D has been well documented recently, both at a global level and through national and industry case studies. However, there is not yet any consensus regarding the following decisive questions: what are the exact level and evolution of R&D collaboration? What are the benefits of collaboration? What are the motives and determinants of firms engaging in R&D collaboration? In our opinion, these questions have not yet been answered due to the limitations of the data used in most empirical studies (large questionnaire surveys or very specific case studies). The main novelty of this paper is the use of patent data with a focus on information concerning inventors. These data are less biased than questionnaire surveys in terms of the size of the institutions; they are objective and are particularly appropriate for analyzing the benefits of collaboration. As the identification of the institutions to which individual inventors are affiliated is a particularly time consuming task, we focus on robot technology in Japan since the beginning of the 1990s. Our results are as follows. First, although the level of R&D collaboration in RT in Japan increased between 1991 and 2004, especially in the case of collaboration between firms and universities, it still remains low and is dominated by inter-firm collaborations. Second, we cannot definitively reject the conclusion that only the scale of the research has an impact on the quality of patents, when the unit of analysis is the patent; however, we show that there are significant spillover effects of collaboration, which imply an indirect effect on quality. Third, the determinants and motives which encourage firms to decide to engage in collaborative research differ depending on the partner they are collaborating with. In the case of collaboration with other firms, IO theories hold, as the existence of spillovers acts as an incentive. Regarding the collaboration with universities and public research institutes, the validity of capability theory, which emphasizes the quest for complementary knowledge and capability, is confirmed by our empirical investigation.

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Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Discussion Paper Series with number a498.

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Length: 26 p.
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Handle: RePEc:hit:hituec:a498
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