NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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You-Na Lee

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Singapore
Singapore

E-Mail: youna.lee@nus.edu.sg
Institutional Affiliation: National University of Singapore

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2019How Innovative Are Innovations? A Multidimensional, Survey-Based Approach
with Wesley M. Cohen, John P. Walsh
in Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the Twenty-First Century, Carol Corrado, Jonathan Haskel, Javier Miranda, and Daniel Sichel, organizers
We suggest that, with proper design, innovation surveys can provide valuable data on innovation rates that inform judgments about whether the reported innovations are important, and in what sense, thus making such data more interpretable than claims that such innovations are simply “new.” First, we recommend asking respondents questions about a specific innovation in an identified line of business. Second, we recommend asking respondents to characterize their innovations in terms of different features that potentially link to the social welfare impact of the innovation. We propose five such features: technological significance, utility, uniqueness, imitability, and how different the innovation is from what the innovating firm has previously commercialized (what we call “distance” or the ...
 
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