The changing structure of American innovation: Some cautionary remarks for economic growth

Published

Journal Article (Chapter)

© 2020 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. All rights reserved. A defining feature of modern economic growth is the systematic application of science to advance technology. However, despite sustained progress in scientific knowledge, recent productivity growth in the United States has been disappointing. We review major changes in the American innovation ecosystem over the past century. The past three decades have been marked by a growing division of labor between universities focusing on research and large corporations focusing on development. Knowledge produced by universities is not often in a form that can be readily digested and turned into new goods and services. Small firms and university technology transfer offices cannot fully substitute for corporate research, which had previously integrated multiple disciplines at the scale required to solve significant technical problems. Therefore, whereas the division of innovative labor may have raised the volume of science by universities, it has also slowed, at least for a period of time, the transformation of that knowledge into novel products and processes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Arora, A; Belenzon, S; Patacconi, A; Suh, J

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 20 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 39 - 93

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-2618

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1531-3468

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/705638

Citation Source

  • Scopus