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Patents and R and D at the Firm Level: A First Look

  • Ariel Pakes
  • Zvi Griliches

This is a first report from a larger study of inventive activity of U.S. firms and some of its consequences. It reports on the relationship between patents applied for and R&D expenditures based on data for 121 large corporations covering the 1968-1975 period. The main conclusion is that there is a statistically significant relationship between a firm's R&D expenditures and the number of patents it applied for and receives. This relationship is very strong in the cross-sectional dimension (squared partial correlations of .8 or higher). It is weaker in the within-firm time-series dimension (partial r[squared]'s of .2 to .3). Attempts to fit an unconstrained distributed lag relationship yields only significant coefficients for the first and last terms in the lag structure, indicating both a quick response of patenting to changes in R&D and a small but persistent effect of past R&D, the truncation of this long lag being reflected in a significant coefficient for R&D lagged five years. In spite of these difficulties, patent counts do measure something systematic and hence are worthy of further study.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0561.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0561.

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Date of creation: Oct 1980
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Publication status: published as Pakes, Ariel and Zvi Griliches. "Patents and R and D at the Firm Level: A First Report." Economics Letter, No. 5, (1980), pp. 377-381.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0561
Note: PR
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  1. Pakes, Ariel & Schankerman, Mark A., 1978. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Knowledge, Research Gestation Labs, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," Working Papers 78-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Comanor, William S & Scherer, Frederic M, 1969. "Patent Statistics as a Measure of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(3), pages 392-98, May/June.
  3. Harold M. Groves, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1962. "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ62-1, October.
  4. Simon Kuznets, 1962. "Inventive Activity: Problems of Definition and Measurement," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 19-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Zvi Griliches, 1980. "R&D and the Productivity Slowdown," NBER Working Papers 0434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  7. M. Ishaq Nadiri & George C. Bitros, 1980. "Research and Development Expenditures and Labor Productivity at the Firm Level: A Dynamic Model," NBER Chapters, in: New Developments in Productivity Measurement, pages 387-418 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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