How Do Inventors’ Political Preferences Affect Innovation?

37 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2024

See all articles by John M. de Figueiredo

John M. de Figueiredo

Duke University School of Law; Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Trijeet Sethi

Capital One Financial Corporation

Brian S. Silverman

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Date Written: December 31, 2023

Abstract

Team production in innovation has become increasingly important. Simultaneously, political polarization has been increasing over time. This paper examines how inventor political ideology affects innovation team formation and subsequent team innovative productivity. To examine these questions, we match North Carolina (NC)-resident inventors in the USPTO patent database to their voter registration records, which contain individuals’ political affiliation and aspects of their voting behavior. We also geolocate each patent assignee to create a risk-set of potential co-inventors in each organization location and in each county. Using a variety of estimation techniques, we describe both the regularities in the data and results from econometric analysis. We estimate that 62 percent of NC inventors are U.S. citizens, the vast majority of whom are male, white, and middle-aged. Republican (Democratic) inventors are overrepresented (underrepresented) in NC relative to the underlying distribution of voters in the state. Citizen-inventors are highly politically engaged, more so on almost every dimension than the average of citizens. Republican inventors pursue different technologies than Democratic inventors. In econometric estimations we show that there is political homophily within co-invention teams: Democrats (Republicans) tend to form teams with other Democrats (Republicans). We also assess the performance of granted patents of innovation teams. In both reduced-form estimations and estimations that instrument for endogenous team formation, NC-based Democratic ideologically homogenous teams tend to outperform Republican ideologically homogenous teams and ideologically heterogeneous teams in patent forward citations and patent renewals, although some of these effects are sensitive to the fixed effects included.

Keywords: political polarization, innovation, patents, teams, inventors

JEL Classification: L2, O3, D7

Suggested Citation

de Figueiredo, John M. and Sethi, Trijeet and Silverman, Brian S., How Do Inventors’ Political Preferences Affect Innovation? (December 31, 2023). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2024-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4680642 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4680642

John M. De Figueiredo

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

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

Trijeet Sethi

Capital One Financial Corporation ( email )

100 East Shore Drive
Glen Allen, VA 23059
United States

Brian S. Silverman (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
74
Abstract Views
344
Rank
599,888
PlumX Metrics