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.