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Patentability, R&D direction, and cumulative innovation

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  • Chen, Yongmin
  • Pan, Shiyuan
  • Zhang, Tianle

Abstract

We present a model of cumulative innovation where firms can conduct R&D in both a safe and a risky direction. Innovations in the risky direction produce quality improvements with higher expected sizes and variances. As patentability standards rise, an innovation in the risky direction is less likely to receive a patent that replaces the current technology, which decreases the static incentive for new entrants to conduct risky R&D, but increases their dynamic incentive because of the longer duration---and hence higher reward---for incumbency. These, together with a strategic substitution and a market structure effect, result in an inverted-U shape in the risky direction but a U shape in the safe direction for the relationship between R&D intensity and patentability standards. There exists a patentability standard that induces the efficient innovation direction, whereas R&D is biased towards (against) the risky direction under lower (higher) standards. The optimal patentability standard may distort the R&D direction to increase the industry innovation rate that is socially deficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Yongmin & Pan, Shiyuan & Zhang, Tianle, 2016. "Patentability, R&D direction, and cumulative innovation," MPRA Paper 73180, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:73180
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Comino & Fabio M. Manenti, 2020. "Patent Portfolios and Firms Technological Choices," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0254, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    2. Jay Pil Choi & Doh-Shin Jeon, 2020. "Two-Sided Platforms and Biases in Technology Adoption," CESifo Working Paper Series 8559, CESifo.
    3. Haiwei Jiang & Shiyuan Pan & Xiaomeng Ren, 2020. "Does Administrative Approval Impede Low-Quality Innovation? Evidence from Chinese Manufacturing Firms," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(5), pages 1-22, March.
    4. Bryan, Kevin A. & Lemus, Jorge, 2017. "The direction of innovation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 247-272.
    5. Chen, Yongmin, 2020. "Improving market performance in the digital economy," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    6. Moraga-González, José-Luis & Motchenkova, Evgenia & Nevrekar, Saish, 2019. "Mergers and Innovation Portfolios," CEPR Discussion Papers 14188, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Kangoh Lee, 2020. "The value and direction of innovation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 130(2), pages 133-156, July.
    8. Marshall, Guillermo & Parra, Álvaro, 2019. "Innovation and competition: The role of the product market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 221-247.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cumulative innovation; patentability standards; R&D intensity; R&D direction; rate of innovation; innovation direction;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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