Are firms at the scientific forefront also at the technological frontier?

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There is evidence in the literature that technological inventions comprise an increasing connection to scientific knowledge as exemplified by the increasing number of citations to scientific papers in the prior art sections of granted patents. If firms are indeed increasingly citing science in their research, two questions are raised: 1) Are firms conducting more scientific research? 2) Is being at the scientific forefront helping firms also to be at the technological frontier? This paper examines scientific output, as measured by numbers of papers, and technological output, as measured by patents of Canadian firms, during the 1980 to 2004 period. The study also looks at the scientific and technological output of firms that have published scientific papers and also hold US patents. We found that, although increasing, basic scientific research and patenting by Canadian firms is at near “homeopathic” levels. Our research also suggests that the number of firms publishing papers and obtaining patents is increasing over time and that, overall, these firms are at both the scientific forefront and the technological frontier. The theoretical framework of our study suggests that in publishing papers, firms trade short-term economic benefits in favour of establishing their reputations as leading firms, which is subsequently translated into a competitive technological advantage.

This content has been updated on June 2nd, 2017 at 11 h 51 min.