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Growing by Leaps and Inches: Creative Destruction, Real Cost Reduction, and Inching Up

  • Michael R. Darby
  • Lynne G. Zucker

Most firms achieve perfective progress, incrementally improving commodities or productivity. But technological progress is concentrated in a few firms achieving metamorphic progress: forming or transforming industries with technological breakthroughs (e.g., biotechnology, lasers, semiconductors, nanotechnology). Unless congruent with incumbents' science and technology base, metamorphic progress promotes entry. Scientific breakthroughs embodied in discovering scientists, protected by natural excludability, and transferred by learning-by-doing-with at the bench generally drive metamorphic progress. Embodied knowledge is rivalrous and leads to entry and industry dominance by star-scientist-linked firms. Incorporating this scientific-entrepreneurial process is essential to improving - if not transforming - endogenous growth models.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8947.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Publication status: published as Darby, Michael R. and Lynne G. Zucker. "Growing By Leaps And Inches: Creative Destruction, Real Cost Reduction, And Inching Up," Economic Inquiry, January 2003, 41(1): 1-19.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8947
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