Financial Disruptions and the Organization of Innovation: Evidence from the Great Depression
81 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020 Last revised: 14 Oct 2022
Date Written: October 2022
We examine innovation following the Great Depression using data on a century’s worth of U.S. patents and a difference-in-differences design that exploits regional variation in the crisis severity. Harder-hit areas experienced large and persistent declines in independent patenting, mostly reflecting the disruption in access to finance during the crisis. This decline was larger for young and inexperienced inventors and lower-quality patents. In contrast, innovation by large firms increased, especially among young and inexperienced inventors. Overall, the Great Depression contributed to the decline in technological entrepreneurship and accelerated the shift of innovation into larger firms.
Keywords: Great Depression, Crises, Innovation, Independent Inventors, Technological Entrepreneurship, Startups, Firm Boundaries, Organization of Innovation
JEL Classification: G01, G21, O3, N12, N22, N32
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