Anchoring Exploration: Knowledge Certification and the Dynamics of Innovation
75 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2021 Last revised: 1 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 7, 2021
How does knowledge certification dynamically shape the rate and direction of innovation? To empirically explore the role of knowledge certification—which may act to decrease the static and dynamic uncertainty of building upon extant knowledge—I study how 135 clinical practice guidelines published 1990-2011 by cardiology professional medical societies shape the use of the 14,390 underlying articles and associated research subfields they incorporate. Employing a difference-in-differences approach, I find subfields included in the guideline have a large and sustained increase in the flow of articles into the field, which are more likely to be themselves highly cited, compared to controls carefully matched on observables. Rather than the aperture of subsequent innovation narrowing, subfields shift towards exploration as they become more translational, more intellectually distant, more disruptive, and build on more diverse and less established prior research, with only a small increase in incremental clinical research. In particular, this shift is larger for those subfields that are more technologically immature. As certifying knowledge requires the investment of resources and time, this shows how commitment can facilitate breakthrough innovation.
Keywords: Knowledge certification, Technological change, Exploration, Translational research, Clinical practice guidelines
JEL Classification: O33, O32, O31, D83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation