A Dynamic Network Measure of Technological Change

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Management Science, ISSN: 0025-1909, Vol: 63, Issue: 3, Page: 791-817

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Russell J. Funk; Jason Owen-Smith
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
Business, Management and Accounting; Decision Sciences
article description
This article outlines a network approach to the study of technological change. We propose that new inventions reshape networks of interlinked technologies by shifting inventors' attention to or away from the knowledge on which those inventions build. Using this approach, we develop novel indexes of the extent to which a new invention consolidates or destabilizes existing technology streams. We apply these indexes in analyses of university research commercialization and find that, although federal research funding pushes campuses to create inventions that are more destabilizing, deeper commercial ties lead them to produce technologies that consolidate the status quo. By quantifying the effects that new technologies have on their predecessors, the indexes we propose allow patent-based studies of innovation to capture conceptually important phenomena that are not detectable with established measures. The measurement approach presented here offers empirical insights that support theoretical development in studies of innovation, entrepreneurship, technology strategy, science policy, and social network theory