Intellectual Property Creation and Diversity
Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CST)
- Chair: Ina Ganguli, University of Massachusetts
Organizational Barriers to Patenting: Evidence from Engineers
AbstractWe survey thousands of engineers from leading technology firms to learn which factors are working for and against a diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) innovation process. We start by documenting the stage at which diversity declines in the invention process. Nearly seventy percent of disclosed inventions do not move beyond patent review boards to patent applications, and disclosed inventions from diverse inventors are more likely to fail this process. Diverse engineers link low levels of patenting to information sharing (e.g., patents harvested from brainstorming sessions have more diverse inventors), identity (e.g., women identify as problem-solvers not inventors), informal systems (e.g., cultural norms that have not adapted to support all inventors), formal systems (e.g., opt-in vs. opt-out harvesting of inventions), and leadership (e.g., assigning diverse talent to projects unlikely to yield patentable inventions). We conclude by highlighting some small-scale experimental evidence aimed at improving diversity in the innovation process.
The Creativity Decline: Evidence from US Patenting
AbstractEconomists have long struggled to understand why aggregate TFP growth has dropped in recent decades while the number of new patents filed has steadily increased. I offer an explanation for this puzzling divergence: the creativity embodied in US patents has dropped dramatically over time. To separate creative from derivative patents, I develop a novel, text-based, measure of patent creativity: the share of two-word combinations that did not appear in previous patents. I show that only creative and not derivative patents are associated with significant improvements in firm-level productivity and stock market valuations. Using the measure, I show that younger, diverse inventors on average file more creative patents. To estimate the effect of changing US demographics on aggregate creativity and productivity growth, I build a growth model with endogenous creation and adoption of technologies. In this model, falling population growth explains 42% of the observed decline in patent creativity, 32% of the slowdown in productivity growth, and 15% of the increase in derivative patenting.
Gender Gaps in Patent Citation
AbstractInnovation is a process that relies heavily on prior research and knowledge. A primary way by which innovation flows are measured is using patent citations. In this paper, we examine the relationship between inventor gender and the likelihood that a patent is cited by subsequent patents. We see that female inventors are undercited relative to their presence in the inventor population. When controlling for time, technology field, and location, we find that female patents receive significantly fewer citations and take longer to be cited than their male counterparts. Patents with majority-female authorship receive on average over 20% fewer citations than patents with majority-male authorship. We also find evidence of gender homophily in citation practices, which is a potential driver of the gap in citations received by female inventors.
- O3 - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
- Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology