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Lone Inventors and Technological Novelty

Conference contribution
Authors Daniel Ljungberg
Published in The Annual Meeting of Academy of Management
ISSN 0065-0668
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE)
Department of Economy and Society
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2019....
Subject categories Technology and social change, Business Administration, Economics and Business

Abstract

According to extant studies, single and independent inventors have a lower probability of creating breakthrough inventions than teams and organizations. Scholars have, however, in recent years highlighted the need to distinguish between inventions’ novelty and value or technological impact, rather than treat the former as an inherent dimension of the latter. At the same time, there is a long tradition of research on brainstorming and group creativity asserting that collaboration in teams, or similarly in organizations, is associated with less novel outcomes, as opposed to individuals working alone. This paper accordingly explores the relationship between lone inventors and the likelihood of generating technological novelty, as compared to inventors working alone and/or in organizations. This paper provides the first systematic and large-scale study of this topic, by analyzing all U.S. patents applied for between 1986 and 2010. The findings suggest that both independent and single inventors have an advantage when it comes to novelty generation compared to collaboration in teams and/or organizations. The results also indicate that the technological complexity of the invention moderates the studied relationships; Single and independent inventors lose their relatively higher probability of generating technological novelty under higher complexity. The paper contributes to the understanding of the role of lone inventors in innovation, as well as to the antecedents of technological novelty.

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