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Endogenous Appropriability

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  • Joshua S. Gans
  • Scott Stern

Abstract

The appropriability of innovation depends not only on the instruments available to an innovator to protect private returns, but how those instruments interact with each other as part of the firm’s entrepreneurial strategy. We consider the interplay between two appropriability mechanisms available to start-up innovators: control, whereby the innovator earns rents from their establishment of formal intellectual property rights, versus execution, whereby innovators earn returns through a first-mover advantage that yields dynamic benefits allowing the firm to “get ahead, stay ahead.” While most prior work has taken these instruments to be independent, we establish that these two alternative appropriability instruments are substitutes on the margin. For example, if the learning advantage from execution is sufficiently high, an entrepreneur might choose not to invest in a patent, even if intellectual property protection is costless. Moreover, the endogenous choice between control and execution is interdependent with other strategic choices of start-up innovators, such as the choice to pursue a narrow or broad customer segment, or whether to commercialize a “minimal viable product” version of their innovation versus delay commercialization until a product is available with a higher level of technical functionality and reliability.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua S. Gans & Scott Stern, 2017. "Endogenous Appropriability," NBER Working Papers 23138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23138
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Gans, Joshua S. & Stern, Scott, 2003. "The product market and the market for "ideas": commercialization strategies for technology entrepreneurs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 333-350, February.
    3. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Joshua S. Gans & David H. Hsu & Scott Stern, 2002. "When Does Start-Up Innovation Spur the Gale of Creative Destruction?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 571-586, Winter.
    5. Joshua S. Gans & Scott Stern, 2000. "Incumbency and R&D Incentives: Licensing the Gale of Creative Destruction," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(4), pages 485-511, December.
    6. Richard R. Nelson, 1959. "The Economics of Invention: A Survey of the Literature," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32, pages 101-101.
    7. Sutton, John, 2012. "Competing in Capabilities: The Globalization Process," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199274536.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kenny Ching & Joshua S. Gans & Scott Stern, 2018. "Control Versus Execution: Endogenous Appropriability and Entrepreneurial Strategy," NBER Working Papers 24448, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:2:p:343-362 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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