NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Daniel P. Gross

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163

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NBER Program Affiliations: DAE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

February 2019The Consequences of Invention Secrecy: Evidence from the USPTO Patent Secrecy Program in World War II
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This paper studies the effects of the USPTO's patent secrecy program in World War II, under which over 11,000 U.S. patent applications were issued secrecy orders which halted examination and prohibited inventors from disclosing their inventions or filing in foreign countries. Secrecy orders were issued most heavily in high-tech areas important to the war effort – such as radar, electronics, and synthetic materials – and nearly all rescinded at the end of the war. I find that compulsory invention secrecy reduced follow-on invention and restricted commercialization, but as part of the security policies in place during the war it appears to have been effective at keeping sensitive technology out of the public view. The results shed light on the consequences of invention secrecy, which is wide...
September 2018Creativity Under Fire: The Effects of Competition on Creative Production
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Though fundamental to innovation and essential to many industries and occupations, individual creativity has received limited attention as an economic behavior and has historically proven difficult to study. This paper studies the incentive effects of competition on individuals' creative production. Using a sample of commercial logo design competitions, and a novel, content-based measure of originality, I find that intensifying competition induces agents to produce original, untested ideas over tweaking their earlier work, but heavy competition drives them to stop investing altogether. The results yield lessons for the management of creative workers and for the implementation of competitive procurement mechanisms for innovation.
December 2017Scale versus Scope in the Diffusion of New Technology: Evidence from the Farm Tractor
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Using the farm tractor as a case study, I show that lags in technology diffusion arise along two distinct margins, which I term scale and scope. Though tractors are now used in nearly every agricultural field operation and in the production of nearly all crops, they first developed with much more limited application. Early diffusion was accordingly rapid in these narrower applications, but limited in scope until tractor technology generalized. The sequence of diffusion is consistent with a model of R&D in specific- versus general-purpose attributes and with other historical examples, suggesting that the key to understanding technology diffusion lies not only in explaining the number of different users, but also in explaining the number of different uses.

Published: Daniel P. Gross, 2018. "Scale versus scope in the diffusion of new technology: evidence from the farm tractor," The RAND Journal of Economics, vol 49(2), pages 427-452. citation courtesy of

 
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