Capturing Technological Opportunity via Japan's Star Scientists: Evidence from Japanese Firms' Biotech Patents and Products

Lynne G. Zucker, Michael R. Darby

NBER Working Paper No. 6360
Issued in January 1998
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

Using detailed data on biotechnology in Japan, we find that identifiable collaborations" between particular university star scientists and firms have a large positive impact on firms'" research productivity, increasing the average firm's biotech patents by 34 percent development by 27 percent, and products on the market by 8 percent as of 1989-1990. However there is little evidence of geographically localized knowledge spillovers. In early industry" formation, star scientists holding tacit knowledge required to practice recombinant DNA (genetic" engineering) were of great economic value, leading to incentives motivating their participation in" technology transfer. In Japan, the legal and institutional context implies that firm scientists work" in the stars' university laboratories in contrast to America where the stars are more likely to work" in the firm's labs. As a result, star collaborations in Japan are less localized around their research" universities so that the universities' local economic development impact is lessened. Stars'" scientific productivity is increased less during collaborations with firms in Japan as compared to" the U.S.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w6360

Published: Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R, 2001. " Capturing Technological Opportunity via Japan's Star Scientists: Evidence from Japanese Firms' Biotech Patents and Products," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 37-58, January. citation courtesy of

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