Ivory Tower Versus Corporate Lab: An Empirical Study of Basic Research and Appropriability

Manuel Trajtenberg, Rebecca Henderson, Adam Jaffe

NBER Working Paper No. 4146
Issued in August 1992
NBER Program(s):   PR

We explore the use of patent citations to measure the "basicness" and appropriability of inventions. We propose that the basicness of research underlying an invention can be characterized by the nature of the previous patents cited by an invention; that the basicness of research outcomes relates to the subsequent patents that cite an invention; and that the fraction of citing patents that are assigned to the same organization as the original invention is a measure of appropriabiity. We test the validity of these presumptions by comparing the value of our measures for university and corporate patents, and find that many of the measures do conform to our a priori belief that university research and research outcomes are more basic and harder to appropriate than those of corporations. We also find some evidence that basicness of outcomes is correlated with basicness of research, and that appropriability is lower for basic outcomes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w4146

Published: Economics of Innovation and New Technology, under the title:"University vs. Corporate Patents: A Window on the Basicness of Innovations", Vol. 5, no. 1 (1997): 19-50.

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