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Random walk to innovation: Why productivity follows a power law

Ghiglino, C (2012) 'Random walk to innovation: Why productivity follows a power law.' Journal of Economic Theory, 147 (2). 713 - 737. ISSN 0022-0531

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This paper examines a search model in which knowledge is created as rational, but poorly informed, innovators obtain new ideas from combinations of existing ideas. We assume that the productivity of an idea is stochastic and depends on the productivity of the parental ideas. Importantly, we assume that the contribution of these parents to the productivity of the final idea is enhanced by prior use of these in knowledge creation. We identify conditions on the search costs leading to two properties: 1) the tail of the distribution of the productivity of innovations is a power law, and 2) the number of citations, i.e., times an idea is used in the process of innovation, follows a displaced power law. Both these properties are consistent with the available empirical evidence on the productivity of innovations and on patent citations. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2013 16:43
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2019 00:15

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