Collective Invention and Inventor Networks [chapter]

Walter W. Powell, Eric Giannella
2010 Handbook of The Economics of Innovation, Vol. 1  
Collective invention occurs when competing organizations share knowledge about the design and development of new technologies. Such exchange and circulation of ideas and practices among communities of inventors was relatively common in the 19 th century, most notably in geographically localized industrial districts. This collective system of innovation was eclipsed in the early and mid-20 th century by the rise to prominence of the large corporate R&D lab. Recent decades, however, have seen the
more » ... decline of stand-alone, internal corporate labs and the resurgence of collective efforts by networks of inventors, distributed across organizations and spanning distant locations. We draw on literatures in economics, innovation studies, management, and sociology to posit explanations for this recent rise. Suggestive additional evidence is provided from comparative analyses of patent data from the 1970s and the present decade.
doi:10.1016/s0169-7218(10)01013-0 fatcat:bacqu3d7tvanjjysd3y4mxrfiy