Science and the Diffusion of Knowledge
Yale School of Management
Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit
May 24, 2001
Scientists, social scientists and politicians frequently credit basic science with stimulating technological innovation, and with it economic growth. To support this idea, researchers have shown that patents based on university research receive more citations - a measure of patent importance - than those developed outside of academia. That research and much of the rhetoric it supports implicitly assumes that the application of scientific methods enables the invention of higher quality technologies. Nevertheless, another possibility exists. The norm of "communism" and the related practice of publication may speed the diffusion of information developed in the scientific community. By examining patent data, this paper seeks to determine to what extent do quality differences versus communication explain the citation premium accorded to university and science-based patents. The analyses suggest that heightened communication explains a substantial amount of the difference, a result with important implications for both future research and public policy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Keywords: science, technological innovation, patents, diffusion
JEL Classification: O31, R1, Z13working papers series
Date posted: May 25, 2001
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