Radical versus non-radical inventions

Wilfred Schoenmakers, Geert Duysters & Wim Vanhaverbeke

#2008-036

This paper looks at the special characteristics of radical inventions. It tries to identify those variables that differentiate radical inventions from non-radical inventions. Since radical inventions are very important for the economy as a whole and for the individual firm performances, understanding what makes radical inventions differ from non-radical inventions is very important. For our research we made use of the EPO (European Patent Office) database on patents. We used the number of forward patent citations per patent to identify radical from non-radical inventions. For our analysis we used the backward patent citations per patent. In order to test if the two groups we are considering are truly different and to see on what factors they differ we made use of discriminant function analysis. Some of our main conclusions are that radical inventions are to a higher degree based on existing knowledge than non-radical inventions. Also the combination of emergent and mature knowledge is more important for radical inventions. A further result that follows from our analysis is that radical inventions are induced by the recombination over more knowledge domains as compared to non-radical inventions. Our research hints also on the importance of alliances and an open innovation system for the development of radical inventions.

Key words: radical inventions, patents, organizational learning, alliances.

JEL Codes: O30, O31, O32, O33, O34, D83.

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

  


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