NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Declining Business Dynamism among Our Best Opportunities: The Role of the Burden of Knowledge

Thomas Astebro, Serguey Braguinsky, Yuheng Ding

NBER Working Paper No. 27787
Issued in September 2020
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

We document that since 1997, the rate of startup formation has precipitously declined for firms operated by U.S. PhD recipients in science and engineering. These are supposedly the source of some of our best new technological and business opportunities. We link this to an increasing burden of knowledge by documenting a long-term earnings decline by founders, especially less experienced founders, greater work complexity in R&D, and more administrative work. The results suggest that established firms are better positioned to cope with the increasing burden of knowledge, in particular through the design of knowledge hierarchies, explaining why new firm entry has declined for high-tech, high-opportunity startups.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27787

 
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