NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Education for Innovation: Entrepreneurial Breakthroughs vs. Corporate Incremental Improvements

William J. Baumol

NBER Working Paper No. 10578
Issued in June 2004
NBER Program(s):Industrial Organization

This paper explores the following hypotheses on the appropriate education for innovating entrepreneurship: a) breakthrough inventions are contributed disproportionately by independent inventors and entrepreneurs, while large firms focus on cumulative, incremental (and often invaluable) improvements; b) education for mastery of scientific knowledge and methods is enormously valuable for innovation and growth, but can impede heterodox thinking and imagination; c) large-firm R&D requires personnel who are highly educated in extant information and analytic methods, while successful independent entrepreneurs and inventors often lack such preparation; d) while procedures for teaching current knowledge and methods in science and engineering are effective, we know little about training for the critical task of breakthrough innovation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10578

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