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Ivory Tower Versus Corporate Lab: An Empirical Study of Basic Research and Appropriability

  • Manuel Trajtenberg
  • Rebecca Henderson
  • Adam Jaffe

We explore the use of patent citations to measure the "basicness" and appropriability of inventions. We propose that the basicness of research underlying an invention can be characterized by the nature of the previous patents cited by an invention; that the basicness of research outcomes relates to the subsequent patents that cite an invention; and that the fraction of citing patents that are assigned to the same organization as the original invention is a measure of appropriabiity. We test the validity of these presumptions by comparing the value of our measures for university and corporate patents, and find that many of the measures do conform to our a priori belief that university research and research outcomes are more basic and harder to appropriate than those of corporations. We also find some evidence that basicness of outcomes is correlated with basicness of research, and that appropriability is lower for basic outcomes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4146.

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Date of creation: Aug 1992
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Publication status: published as Economics of Innovation and New Technology, under the title:"University vs. Corporate Patents: A Window on the Basicness of Innovations", Vol. 5, no. 1 (1997): 19-50.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4146
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  1. Iain Cockburn & Zvi Griliches, 1987. "Industry Effects and Appropriability Measures in the Stock Markets Valuation of R&D and Patents," NBER Working Papers 2465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Zvi Griliches, 1984. "Market Value, R&D, and Patents," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 249-252 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ariel Pakes, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," NBER Working Papers 1340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Dosi, Giovanni, 1982. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 147-162, June.
  6. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  7. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 3993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dasgupta, Partha & David, Paul, 1985. "Information Disclosure and the Economics of Science and Technology," CEPR Discussion Papers 73, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-70, December.
  10. Cohen, Wesley M. & Levin, Richard C., 1989. "Empirical studies of innovation and market structure," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 18, pages 1059-1107 Elsevier.
  11. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  12. Adam B. Jaffe, 1986. "Technological Opportunity and Spillovers of R&D: Evidence from Firms' Patents, Profits and Market Value," NBER Working Papers 1815, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Carpenter, Mark P. & Narin, Francis, 1983. "Validation study: Patent citations as indicators of science and foreign dependence," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 180-185.
  15. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
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