R&d Organizational Structure and Innovation: the Interplay Between Intrafirm and Interfirm Inventor Networks
Nicholas S. Argyres (Washington University)
Luis A. Rios (University of Pennsylvania)
Brian S. Silverman (University of Toronto)

Abstract : Recent research has explored the effect of shifts in formal R&D structure on the evolution of inventor networks within the firm, which consequently affects the nature of innovation generated by the firm. Yet prior research demonstrates that the formal organization of R&D affects both internal production of innovation and external sourcing of innovation. In this study, we advance the literature by exploring the interaction between changes in within-firm inventor networks and changes in across-firm inventor networks after a shift in formal R&D structure, and by exploring the effect of this interaction on innovation.

The Great Patent Grab
Jonathan Barnett (Univ. of Southern California)

Abstract : From the late 1930s through the 1970s, the U.S. innovation economy operated under a weak property rights regime. Courts and regulators were largely unsympathetic toward patents and expansively interpreted antitrust constraints on patent licensing. This patent-skeptical climate was illustrated by a sequence of antitrust enforcement actions that resulted in the compulsory licensing of patent portfolios held by some of the largest U.S. firms. Concurrently, the federal government instituted an implicit compulsory licensing regime through the infusion of R&D funding into the private sector, accompanied by legal constraints on firms’ control over technology developed using those funds. The postwar period exhibited robust innovation for a substantial but limited period, followed by a noticeable slowdown commencing in the mid-1960s. R&D investment was concentrated among a small group of large firms that received extensive government funding, market concentration did not decline, and incumbents targeted by compulsory licensing orders mostly maintained their market positions. The postwar weak-IP regime may have skewed organizational structures for undertaking innovation and commercialization activities, necessitated substantial supplemental public funding, and does not provide a generalizable model of a self-sustaining innovation system.

New Models and New Practices in the Private Funding of Academic Research
Janet Bercovitz (University of Colorado Boulder)
Maryann Feldman (University of North Carolina)
Alex Graddy-Reed (University of Southern California)

Abstract : Private foundation funding of academic research has grown substantially over the past decade reaching $4.3B in 2010. The majority of foundation funding is allocated to research in the life sciences. Given a focus on the immediate needs of a specific patient population and the concomitant emphasis on translational advances, an emerging subset of foundation funders are acting as institutional entrepreneurs and promoting the adoption of a different model for sponsored research, that of venture philanthropy. The venture philanthropy model emphasizes the active management of the commercialization process, with the goal of accelerating scientific progress to material outcomes. This study investigates how these relatively new players are influencing the substance, practice and structure of academic research by examining contractual terms in sponsored research agreements. We explore two specific questions: (1) How do the terms in research agreements vary across funder types? And (2) what are the performance implications of the adoption of these contractual innovations?

The Problem You Know: an Empirical Examination of Firms' Recombination Strategies
J.P. Eggers (New York University)
Aseem Kaul (University of Minnesota)

Abstract : In this study, we empirically examine the approaches firms take when recombining knowledge to develop new technologies. Conceiving of recombination as the matching of problems to solutions, we develop a typology of four recombination strategies based on whether the firm is familiar with the problem and / or the solution. We then examine the prevalence of these four strategies, both in general and when pursuing potentially radical inventions. Citation-level analyses for the population of patents granted to for-profit firms by the US patent office between 1981 and 2004 show that while firms are most likely to recombine knowledge across domains with which they are already familiar, a surprisingly high proportion of recombinations occur across domains that are both new to the firm. More interestingly, when recombining existing and new knowledge, firms are substantially more likely to seek unfamiliar solutions to familiar problems than to apply familiar solutions to unfamiliar problems, with this pattern being more pronounced when pursuing potentially radical technologies. Supplementary analyses suggest that this ‘preference for problems’ is not driven by access to complementary assets or the superior effectiveness of such a strategy, but seems to reflect a cognitive focus on problems when evaluating technological opportunities.