Information Technology and the Distribution of Inventive Activity

34 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2014 Last revised: 30 Sep 2014

See all articles by Chris Forman

Chris Forman

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Shane M. Greenstein

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2014

Abstract

We examine the relationship between the diffusion of advanced internet technology and the geographic concentration of invention, as measured by patents. First, we show that patenting became more concentrated from the early 1990s to the early 2000s and, similarly, that counties that were leaders in patenting in the early 1990s produced relatively more patents by the early 2000s. Second, we compare the extent of invention in counties that were leaders in internet adoption to those that were not. We see little difference in the growth rate of patenting between leaders and laggards in internet adoption, on average. However, we find that the rate of patent growth was faster among counties who were not leaders in patenting in the early 1990s but were leaders in internet adoption by 2000, suggesting that the internet helped stem the trend towards more geographic concentration. We show that these results are largely driven by patents filed by distant collaborators rather than non-collaborative patents or patents by non-distant collaborators, suggesting low cost long-distance digital communication as a potential mechanism.

Suggested Citation

Forman, Chris and Goldfarb, Avi and Greenstein, Shane M., Information Technology and the Distribution of Inventive Activity (April 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20036. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2424607

Chris Forman (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416-946-8604 (Phone)
416-978-5433 (Fax)

Shane M. Greenstein

Harvard University - Technology & Operations Management Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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