NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Killing the Golden Goose? The Decline of Science in Corporate R&D

Ashish Arora, Sharon Belenzon, Andrea Patacconi

NBER Working Paper No. 20902
Issued in January 2015
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Scientific knowledge is believed to be the wellspring of innovation. Historically, firms have also invested in research to fuel innovation and growth. In this paper, we document a shift away from scientific research by large corporations between 1980 and 2007. We find that publications by company scientists have declined over time in a range of industries. We also find that the value attributable to scientific research has dropped, whereas the value attributable to technical knowledge (as measured by patents) has remained stable. These effects appear to be associated with globalization and narrower firm scope, rather than changes in publication practices or a decline in the usefulness of science as an input into innovation. Large firms appear to value the golden eggs of science (as reflected in patents) but not the golden goose itself (the scientific capabilities). These findings have important implications for both public policy and management.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20902

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