Knowledge Sharing Among Inventors: Some Historical Perspectives
James E. Bessen
Boston University - School of Law; Research on Innovation
Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa - Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM)
October 14, 2011
REVOLUTIONIZING INNOVATION: USERS, COMMUNITIES AND OPEN INNOVATION, MIT Press, 2012
Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-51
LEM Working Paper 2011/21
This chapter documents instances from past centuries where inventors freely shared knowledge of their innovations with other inventors. It is widely believed that such knowledge sharing is a recent development, as in Open Source Software. Our survey shows, instead, that innovators have long practiced “collective invention” at times, including inventions in such key technologies as steam engines, iron, steel, and textiles. Generally, innovator behavior was substantially richer than the heroic portrayal often found in textbooks and museums. Knowledge sharing promoted innovation, sometimes coexisting with patents, at other times, not, suggesting that policy should foster both knowledge sharing and invention incentives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: technological change, knowledge sharing, collective invention, patents
JEL Classification: N70, O33, O34Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 15, 2011 ; Last revised: October 4, 2013
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