Made in Academia: The Effect of Institutional Origin on Inventors’ Attention to Science
36 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013 Last revised: 21 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 20, 2018
Inventors cannot exploit new scientific discoveries if they do not pay attention to them. However, allocating attention to science is difficult because the scientific literature is vast, fast-changing, and often unreliable. Inventors are therefore likely to rely on informational cues when screening new publications. I posit that inventors pay significantly less attention to discoveries “made in academia” than to those “made in industry” because they believe that the work of academic scientists will be less useful to them. I test this proposition by examining inventors’ patent references to the scientific literature in the case of simultaneous discoveries made by 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. My results highlight the importance of inventors’ attention as a hitherto underexplored bottleneck shaping the translation of science into new technologies.
Keywords: innovation; attention; academic science; simultaneous discoveries; patents; use of science in inventions
JEL Classification: O32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation