The two faces of inventions

The relationship between recombination and impact in pharmaceutical biotechnology

S. Keijl, V. A. Gilsing, J. Knoben, G.M. Duijsters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

‘Recombination’ and ‘impact’ have become well established constructs to understand the origins of inventions and their importance for the development of future inventions. Despite forming these two familiar ‘faces of inventions’, their specific relationship has only marginally been subject to inquiry. To address this, this paper studies the relationship between the level of recombination of inventions and their technological impact, along two steps. First, in contrast to the common idea of a linear relationship between recombination and impact we argue that the relationship is in fact a non-linear one. Second, we distinguish between different levels of recombination (low, intermediate, high) and determine their differential impact, thereby establishing which type of recombination leads to the highest level of technological impact. We test our hypotheses on an extensive dataset, comprised of all USPTO granted patents in the biopharmaceutical industry between 1976 and 2006. Our empirical findings indicate strong evidence for a curvilinear relationship between recombination and impact. In addition, we find that an intermediate level of recombination – formed by a combination of components from local, adjacent and distant knowledge domains – carries the highest level of technological impact of all types of inventions. Finally, we discuss implications for the academic literature and for firms’ innovation strategies.
Keywords: Inventions, Recombination, Technological impact, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, Breakthroughs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1074
JournalResearch Policy: A Journal devoted to Research Policy, Research Management and Planning
Volume45
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Keywords

  • Inventions
  • Recombination
  • Technological impact
  • Pharmaceutical biotechnology
  • Breakthroughs

Cite this

@article{16fbab33342e477985fc13ec7518bccb,
title = "The two faces of inventions: The relationship between recombination and impact in pharmaceutical biotechnology",
abstract = "‘Recombination’ and ‘impact’ have become well established constructs to understand the origins of inventions and their importance for the development of future inventions. Despite forming these two familiar ‘faces of inventions’, their specific relationship has only marginally been subject to inquiry. To address this, this paper studies the relationship between the level of recombination of inventions and their technological impact, along two steps. First, in contrast to the common idea of a linear relationship between recombination and impact we argue that the relationship is in fact a non-linear one. Second, we distinguish between different levels of recombination (low, intermediate, high) and determine their differential impact, thereby establishing which type of recombination leads to the highest level of technological impact. We test our hypotheses on an extensive dataset, comprised of all USPTO granted patents in the biopharmaceutical industry between 1976 and 2006. Our empirical findings indicate strong evidence for a curvilinear relationship between recombination and impact. In addition, we find that an intermediate level of recombination – formed by a combination of components from local, adjacent and distant knowledge domains – carries the highest level of technological impact of all types of inventions. Finally, we discuss implications for the academic literature and for firms’ innovation strategies.Keywords: Inventions, Recombination, Technological impact, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, Breakthroughs",
keywords = "Inventions, Recombination, Technological impact, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, Breakthroughs",
author = "S. Keijl and Gilsing, {V. A.} and J. Knoben and G.M. Duijsters",
year = "2016",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1016/j.respol.2016.02.008",
language = "English",
volume = "45",
pages = "1061--1074",
journal = "Research Policy: A Journal devoted to Research Policy, Research Management and Planning",
issn = "0048-7333",
publisher = "Elsevier Science BV",
number = "5",

}

The two faces of inventions : The relationship between recombination and impact in pharmaceutical biotechnology. / Keijl, S.; Gilsing, V. A.; Knoben, J.; Duijsters, G.M.

In: Research Policy: A Journal devoted to Research Policy, Research Management and Planning, Vol. 45, No. 5, 06.2016, p. 1061-1074.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The two faces of inventions

T2 - The relationship between recombination and impact in pharmaceutical biotechnology

AU - Keijl, S.

AU - Gilsing, V. A.

AU - Knoben, J.

AU - Duijsters, G.M.

PY - 2016/6

Y1 - 2016/6

N2 - ‘Recombination’ and ‘impact’ have become well established constructs to understand the origins of inventions and their importance for the development of future inventions. Despite forming these two familiar ‘faces of inventions’, their specific relationship has only marginally been subject to inquiry. To address this, this paper studies the relationship between the level of recombination of inventions and their technological impact, along two steps. First, in contrast to the common idea of a linear relationship between recombination and impact we argue that the relationship is in fact a non-linear one. Second, we distinguish between different levels of recombination (low, intermediate, high) and determine their differential impact, thereby establishing which type of recombination leads to the highest level of technological impact. We test our hypotheses on an extensive dataset, comprised of all USPTO granted patents in the biopharmaceutical industry between 1976 and 2006. Our empirical findings indicate strong evidence for a curvilinear relationship between recombination and impact. In addition, we find that an intermediate level of recombination – formed by a combination of components from local, adjacent and distant knowledge domains – carries the highest level of technological impact of all types of inventions. Finally, we discuss implications for the academic literature and for firms’ innovation strategies.Keywords: Inventions, Recombination, Technological impact, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, Breakthroughs

AB - ‘Recombination’ and ‘impact’ have become well established constructs to understand the origins of inventions and their importance for the development of future inventions. Despite forming these two familiar ‘faces of inventions’, their specific relationship has only marginally been subject to inquiry. To address this, this paper studies the relationship between the level of recombination of inventions and their technological impact, along two steps. First, in contrast to the common idea of a linear relationship between recombination and impact we argue that the relationship is in fact a non-linear one. Second, we distinguish between different levels of recombination (low, intermediate, high) and determine their differential impact, thereby establishing which type of recombination leads to the highest level of technological impact. We test our hypotheses on an extensive dataset, comprised of all USPTO granted patents in the biopharmaceutical industry between 1976 and 2006. Our empirical findings indicate strong evidence for a curvilinear relationship between recombination and impact. In addition, we find that an intermediate level of recombination – formed by a combination of components from local, adjacent and distant knowledge domains – carries the highest level of technological impact of all types of inventions. Finally, we discuss implications for the academic literature and for firms’ innovation strategies.Keywords: Inventions, Recombination, Technological impact, Pharmaceutical biotechnology, Breakthroughs

KW - Inventions

KW - Recombination

KW - Technological impact

KW - Pharmaceutical biotechnology

KW - Breakthroughs

U2 - 10.1016/j.respol.2016.02.008

DO - 10.1016/j.respol.2016.02.008

M3 - Article

VL - 45

SP - 1061

EP - 1074

JO - Research Policy: A Journal devoted to Research Policy, Research Management and Planning

JF - Research Policy: A Journal devoted to Research Policy, Research Management and Planning

SN - 0048-7333

IS - 5

ER -