Killing the Golden Goose? The Decline of Science in Corporate R&D

49 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015 Last revised: 3 Feb 2015

See all articles by Ashish Arora

Ashish Arora

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economics Research; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Sharon Belenzon

Duke University; NBER; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Andrea Patacconi

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Norwich Business School

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

Scientific knowledge is believed to be the wellspring of innovation. Historically, firms have also invested in research to fuel innovation and growth. In this paper, we document a shift away from scientific research by large corporations between 1980 and 2007. We find that publications by company scientists have declined over time in a range of industries. We also find that the value attributable to scientific research has dropped, whereas the value attributable to technical knowledge (as measured by patents) has remained stable. These effects appear to be associated with globalization and narrower firm scope, rather than changes in publication practices or a decline in the usefulness of science as an input into innovation. Large firms appear to value the golden eggs of science (as reflected in patents) but not the golden goose itself (the scientific capabilities). These findings have important implications for both public policy and management.

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Suggested Citation

Arora, Ashish and Belenzon, Sharon and Patacconi, Andrea, Killing the Golden Goose? The Decline of Science in Corporate R&D (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20902. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558954

Ashish Arora (Contact Author)

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

National Bureau of Economics Research

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

Sharon Belenzon

Duke University ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(1) 617 588 1484 (Phone)

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

215 Morris St., Suite 300
Durham, NC 27701
United States

Andrea Patacconi

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Norwich Business School ( email )

Norwich
NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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