Science as a map in technological search
Article first published online: 20 JUL 2004
Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal
Special Issue: The Global Acquisition, Leverage, and Protection of Technological Competencies
Volume 25, Issue 8-9, pages 909–928, August - September 2004
How to Cite
Fleming, L. and Sorenson, O. (2004), Science as a map in technological search. Strat. Mgmt. J., 25: 909–928. doi: 10.1002/smj.384
- Issue published online: 20 JUL 2004
- Article first published online: 20 JUL 2004
- recombinant search;
A large body of work argues that scientific research increases the rate of technological advance, and with it economic growth. The precise mechanism through which science accelerates the rate of invention, however, remains an open question. Conceptualizing invention as a combinatorial search process, this paper argues that science alters inventors' search processes, by leading them more directly to useful combinations, eliminating fruitless paths of research, and motivating them to continue even in the face of negative feedback. These mechanisms prove most useful when inventors attempt to combine highly coupled components; therefore, the value of scientific research to invention varies systematically across applications. Empirical analyses of patent data support this thesis. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.