Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2009

Center/Program

Center for Law and Economic Studies

Center/Program

Center for Contract and Economic Organization

Abstract

There is much we do not understand about the “location” of innovation: the confluence, for a particular innovation, of the technology associated with the innovation, the innovating firm’s size and organizational structure, and the financial contracting that supports the innovation. This Essay suggests that these three indicia are simultaneously determined and discusses the interaction among them through four examples of innovative activity whose location is characterized by tradeoffs between pursuing the activity in an established company; in a smaller, earlier stage company; or some combination of the two. It first considers the dilemma faced by an established company in deciding whether to keep an employee’s innovation or allow the employee to pursue the innovation through a startup. It next takes up a very different relationship between an established company and an earlier stage company: the development by the smaller company of a “disruptive” innovation that displaces the industry’s dominant companies. The Essay then considers an established company’s instrumental use of the startup market to outsource development of a particular innovation to a technology race. Finally, the Essay examines a form of innovation located between an established and earlier stage company: the pattern of joint ventures between large pharmaceutical companies and smaller biotechnology companies.

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