Made in Academia: The Effect of Institutional Origin on Inventors’ Attention to Science
35 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 14 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 13, 2017
This paper investigates inventors’ allocation of their attention to science. The scientific literature is complex, vast, and fast-changing and there is considerable uncertainty about the reliability of any given contribution. At the same time, inventors’ attention is scarce and they must decide — whether deliberately or not — how much attention each scientific publication deserves. To do so, they are likely to rely on informational cues. I propose that inventors pay significantly less attention to discoveries “made in academia” than to those “made in industry.” I test this proposition by examining inventors’ patent references to the scientific literature in the case of simultaneous discoveries involving at least one team based in academia and another based in industry. I find that inventors are 23% less likely to cite the academic paper than its twin from industry. Taken together, the results highlight the importance of inventors’ attention as a hitherto underexplored bottleneck shaping the translation of science into new technologies.
Keywords: Academic science; Knowledge dissemination; Inventions; Simultaneous discoveries
JEL Classification: O32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation