Research and teaching

Science and the diffusion of knowledge

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2004 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson and Lee Fleming

Scientists, social scientists and politicians frequently credit basic science with stimulating technological innovation, and with it economic growth. Despite a substantial body of research investigating this general relationship, relatively little empirical attention has been given to understanding the mechanisms that might generate this linkage. This paper considers whether more rapid diffusion of knowledge, brought about by the norm of publication, might account for part of this effect. We identify the importance of publication by comparing the patterns of citations from future patents to three groups of focal patents: (i) those that reference scientific (peer-reviewed) publications, (ii) those that reference commercial (non-scientific) publications; and (iii) those that reference neither. Our analyses strongly implicate publication as an important mechanism for accelerating the rate of technological innovation: Patents that reference published material, whether peer-reviewed or not, receive more citations, primarily because their influence diffuses faster in time and space.

Research Policy, 33 (2004): 1615-1634

Science as a map in technological search

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2004 - (0 Comments)

Lee Fleming and Olav Sorenson

A large body of work argues that scientific research increases the rate of technological advance, and with it economic growth. The precise mechanism through which science accelerates the rate of invention, however, remains an open question. Conceptualizing invention as a combinatorial search process, this paper argues that science alters inventors’ search processes, by leading them more directly to useful combinations, eliminating fruitless paths of research, and motivating them to continue even in the face of negative feedback. These mechanisms prove most useful when inventors attempt to combine highly coupled components; therefore, the value of scientific research to invention varies systematically across applications. Empirical analyses of patent data support this thesis.

Strategic Management Journal, 25 (2004): 909-928