The idiosyncrasy and dynamism of technologicalinnovation across industries: patent citation analysis
Technology in Society
Vol. 27, Num. 0
A pattern or structure for technological innovation is difficult to discern: innovation appears to be unpredictable across industrial sectors and variable across time as well. Park et. al. investigate these patterns closley, looking for patterns of relationships among industries, including nanotechnology. Using patent citation analysis applied to the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) patent database, they note idisyncratic and dynamic differences between conventional manufacturing sectors and science-based sectors. They ask three questions: "(a) If the patterns of technological innovation are dissimilar among industries, what are the main differences in terms of industry and/or technology characteristics? (b) If the patterns of innovation are unstable and dynamic, what are the differences or changing trends over time? (c) If industrial sectors are interconnected in a technological network, what is the overall shape of the network, and what are the roles of industries in the network?"
The NBER allows researchers to categorize by year and technology category as well as by other patents cited. Park et. al use a modified version of Pavitt's technology classification scheme. They consider "innovativeness" as measured by the mean value of the number of patents held by all the firms in a particular sector. Their research offered four findings:
To explain these findings, they suggest that science based industries tended to be more open, decentralized and connected rather than closed and hierarchical. The scope of claims (the number of claims of each patent) is relatively broad in the nanotechnology industry. The flow of information between companies (using patents) is also tracked, with information-based science and chemical-science based industries contributing most to the flow of knowledge. Finally, biotechnology appears to be a closed sector, citing its own patents rather than patents from other industries.