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How Rapidly Does Science Leak Out?

  • James D. Adams

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA)

  • J. Roger Clemmons

    (Institute for Child Health Policy, College of Medicine of the University of Florida)

  • Paula E. Stephan

    (Georgia State University)

In science as well as technology, the diffusion of new ideas influences innovation and productive efficiency. With this as motivation we use citations to scientific papers to measure the diffusion of science through the U.S. economy. To indicate the speed of diffusion we rely primarily on the modal or most frequent lag. Using this measure we find that diffusion between universities as well as between firms and universities takes an average of three years. The lag on science diffusion between firms is 3.3 years, compared with 4.8 years in technology for the same companies using the same methodology. Industrial science diffuses fifty per cent more rapidly than technology, and academic science diffuses still faster. Thus the priority publication system in science appears to distribute information more rapidly than the patent system, although other interpretations are possible. We also find that the speed of science diffusion in the same field varies by a factor of two across industries. The industry variation turns out to be driven by frictional publication lags and firm size in R&D and science. Friction increases the lag, but firm size in R&D and science decrease it. Industries having a lot of R&D or science and composed of fields with little friction exhibit rapid diffusion. Industries where the reverse is true exhibit slow diffusion.

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File URL: http://www.economics.rpi.edu/workingpapers/rpi0612.pdf
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Paper provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics in its series Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics with number 0612.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:rpi:rpiwpe:0612
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.economics.rpi.edu/
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  1. 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.
  2. Rebecca Henderson & Iain Cockburn, . "Scale, Scope and Spillovers: The Determinants of Research Productivity in Drug Discovery," Working Papers ec25/94, Department of Economics, University of Lancaster.
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  5. Glenn Ellison, 2002. "Evolving Standards for Academic Publishing: A q-r Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 994-1034, October.
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  7. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  9. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Hayashi, Fumio, 1989. "Research and Development as an Investment," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8br8d266, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  10. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
  11. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2002. "Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R&D," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 1-23, January.
  12. Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Determinants of Knowledge Flows and Their Effect on Innovation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 308-322, May.
  13. Dearden, J. & Ickes, B.W. & Samuelson, L., 1988. "To Innovate Or Not To Innovate: Incentives And Innovation In Hierarchies," Papers 9-88-4, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  14. Lee Branstetter & Yoshiaki Ogura, 2005. "Is Academic Science Driving a Surge in Industrial Innovation? Evidence from Patent Citations," NBER Working Papers 11561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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