NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Flows of Knowledge from Universities and Federal Labs: Modeling the Flowof Patent Citations Over Time and Across Institutional and Geographic Boundari

Adam B. Jaffe, Manuel Trajtenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 5712
Issued in August 1996
NBER Program(s):   PR

The extent to which new technological knowledge flows across institutional and national boundaries is a question of great importance for public policy and the modeling of economic growth. This paper develops a model of the process generating subsequent citations to patents as a lens for viewing knowledge diffusion. We find that the probability of patent citation over time after a patent is granted fits well to a double-exponential function that can be interpreted as the mixture of diffusion and obsolescence functions. The results indicate that diffusion is geographically localized. Controlling for other factors, within-country citations are more numerous and come more quickly than those that cross country boundaries.

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Published: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.93, pp.12671-12677, November 1996.

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