The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: A New Agenda
The National Bureau of Economic Research’s Innovation Policy and the Economy Working Group is seeking paper proposals for a 50th anniversary conference in honor of The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity. This 1962 NBER volume contains several landmark papers in the economics of technological change, including Ken Arrow’s essay, Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention.
With funding from the Kauffman Foundation, the conference and subsequent volume seek to honor and assess the original volume, and sponsor new theoretical and empirical contributions on fundamental questions in the economics of innovation and technological change. An explosion of empirical and theoretical research in the economics of technological change, as well as contemporary policy challenges, suggest an opportunity for reevaluation of the traditional innovation policy framework:
- How do innovation and diffusion depend on the institutional environment in which new technology is developed and commercialized, and how are the drivers of innovation changing over time? Does the pervasive diffusion of information technology impact the economics of knowledge accumulation itself?
- What is the role of “open” research environments (from scientific communities to the open-source software movement) in innovation? What are the economic and institutional drivers of open-access versus proprietary innovation models, and how does institutional design impact innovation outcomes?
- What determines the allocation of research investment between the public and the private sector (and what should determine that allocation)? What role do universities (and other non-profit research institutions) play in long-term technical change and economic progress?
- How does the global nature of innovation impact innovation policies that are, by and large, implemented at the national or local level?
- How do innovation and diffusion impact economic growth? Has technical change moderated or exacerbated macroeconomic fluctuations? What is the relationship between innovation and economic inequality, both within and across countries? What is the role of innovation—as a driver or a remedy—in the current economic crisis?
These questions are of course but a beginning; the hope is that this initiative sparks significant advance on the most important unaddressed questions in the economics of innovation.
Interested authors are encouraged to submit a two-page research proposal that includes an abstract of the intended paper, an outline of the methodologies to be used, and a brief statement about the current state of the research project. The research proposals are to be submitted by March 1, 2009, to email@example.com, or by mail to Rob Shannon, National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Authors will be notified of acceptance by March 15, 2009. A pre-conference is scheduled to be held on July 13-14, 2009, and the formal conference is scheduled for late Spring, 2010. Authors of accepted papers will be reimbursed for regular transportation expenses for both the pre-conference and conference, and receive an honorarium of $7,500 for timely submission of the draft and final manuscript.
Philippe Aghion, Harvard University
Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University
Manuel Trajtenberg, Tel Aviv University
Richard Nelson, Columbia University
Hal Varian, UC-Berkeley and Google
Josh Lerner, Harvard University
Scott Stern, Northwestern University