The Illusive Slump of Disruptive Patents

Macher, Jeffrey and Rutzer, Christian and Weder, Rolf. (2023) The Illusive Slump of Disruptive Patents. WWZ Working Paper, 2023 (06). Basel.

PDF - Published Version

Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/95069/

Downloads: Statistics Overview


Despite tremendous growth in the volume of new scientific and technological knowledge, the popular press has recently raised concerns that disruptive innovative activity is slowing. These dire prognoses were mainly driven by Park et al. (2023), a Nature publication that uses decades of data and millions of observations coupled with a novel quantitative metric (the CD index) that characterizes innovation in science and technology as either consolidating or disruptive. We challenge the Park et al. (2023) methodology and findings, principally around concerns of truncation bias and exclusion bias. We show that 88 percent of the decrease in disruptive patents over 1980-2010 reported by the authors can be explained by their truncation of all backward citations before 1976. We also show that this truncation bias varies by technology class. We update the analysis to 2016 and account for a change in U.S. patent law that allows for citations to patent applications in addition to patent grants, which is ignored by the authors in their analysis. We show that the number of highly disruptive patents has increased since 1980---particularly in IT technologies. Our results suggest caution in using the Park et al. (2023) methodology as a basis for research and decision making in public policy, industry restructuring or firm reorganization aimed at altering the current innovation landscape.
Faculties and Departments:06 Faculty of Business and Economics > Departement Wirtschaftswissenschaften > Professuren Wirtschaftswissenschaften > Aussenwirtschaft und Europ. Integration (Weder)
12 Special Collections > WWZ Publications > WWZ Discussion Papers and Working Papers
UniBasel Contributors:Macher, Jeffrey and Rutzer, Christian and Weder, Rolf
Item Type:Working Paper
Number of Pages:22
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Discussion paper / Internet publication
Identification Number:
  • handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2023/06
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:04 Jul 2023 09:54
Deposited On:04 Jul 2023 09:54

Repository Staff Only: item control page