Below is a selection of recent projects the Research Lab conducted in collaboration with government and supranational institutions.
Microeconomic measurement of firm-level innovation
This project is conducted in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. It aims to analyse the current system of the measurement of private firms' R&D activities in Switzerland, in order to discuss some shortcomings that arise from the macro-level structure of the data that are collected with the current questionnaire instrument. Further, the project aims to develop some ideas of how a more micro-level data structure on firms' R&D activities may be obtained and of how their intrafirm innovatory processes may be directly studied.
Uncertainty in the Patent System: Quantitative Analysis of EPO data
This project is conducted in collaboration with the European Patent Office (EPO). The goal of this proposal is to suggest some possibilities for the quantitative analysis of EPO's applicant behaviour and the uncertainty in the patent system this behaviour induces. Overly long pendency times are a cost to both EPO (due to the increased pendency time induced by the additional workload that behaviours creating uncertainty imply) and to society (due to the problem that the final scope of the claims of the granted patent is unknown), so that there is a joint interest for an analysis of how and why patent applications differ, and whether or not this difference may be traced back to applicants willingly creating uncertainty.
Economic Focus Study on SMEs and Intellectual Property in Switzerland
This research project contains the results of a study jointly commissioned by the Swiss Institute for Intellectual Property (IPI) to the Institute of Technology Management (ITEM) at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and the Chair of Economics and Management of Innovation (CEMI) at the College of Management of Technology, École Polytéchnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The purpose of this study is to analyse how, why, and to which extent Swiss small and medium enterprises (SMEs) use or do not use the intellectual property rights (IPR) measures the Swiss IP system offers, and to elaborate policy recommendations on the basis of these analyses.
Resolving the paradox of openness: A theory and empirical test of how open innovation influences technological output and appropriation (Research Lab)
Open innovation (OI), i.e. the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation and expand the markets for external use of innovation, has become a widespread trend among firms from many industries (Chesbrough et al., 2006). In this research proposal we point to theoretical inconsistencies and knowledge gaps that emerge from the ‘paradox of openness’. This paradox emerges from a firm’s desire to search broadly and deeply among a set of external knowledge sources that could benefit its innovatory activities, while at the same time having to protect proprietary firm knowledge from being copied by competitors and other actors. In this research we suggest to analyse two areas where such ambiguities and theoretical inconsistencies are particularly disturbing, namely (1) the effect of OI on the firm’s technological output, and (2) the effect of OI on the ability of the firm to appropriate the economic returns from its innovations.
New theoretical perspectives for international innovation: Research gaps and the need for intrafirm information (Research Lab)
This is an SNF project that ran from 2007 to 2009. MNCs conduct an ever-increasing share of their innovation activities in countries other than their home country (UNCTAD, 2005). Despite the increasing relevance of this phenomenon, serious research gaps remain in our understanding of firms' international innovation processes. The dominant theoretical perspective on how firms should conduct international innovation, Bartlett and Ghoshal's 'Transnational' paradigm, is increasingly at odds with empirical findings on international innovation. Paradoxically, MNCs do not seem to use their network of international R&D subsidiaries for international innovation projects, rather, most innovations still come exclusively from headquarters. Although prominent scholars have called for research on this topic and have noted the great potentials this paradox bears for future theory development in the field of international business theory and technology management (Brock and Birkinshaw, 2004; Argyres and Silverman, 2004; Rugman, 2005; Verbeke, 2005), little has been done to address these calls. This can basically be attributed to the fact that the dominant US research tradition in the field has preferred to work with aggregate proxy measures, so that we have no information whatsoever that would be based on intrafirm data on international R&D, and consequently, we do not know how firms actually conduct international innovation (Argyres and Silverman, 2004). We wish to advance our understanding beyond this paradigm by systematic theory development that can be published in high-ranking international journals. It is also our express goal to empirically contribute to this paradigm shift by going beyond incomplete proxies and database information that is popular with the current US-dominated research culture, and to move toward more adequate explana-tory models. Such data, as well as new theoretical insights on our understanding of international innovation, are called for by many prominent scholars, yet still unavailable, our research could make a strong impact in international journals. Based on qualitative and quantitative research conducted in 2006 which was sponsored by the Basic Research Fund of the University of St. Gallen, we have elaborated this proposal as a suggestion of how these theoretical and empirical contribution can be achieved. It will proceed as follows. First, we set out the research gaps that remain in our understanding of firms' international innovation processes. We also present empirical evidence that shows that the dominant theoretical perspective on international innovation, the 'Transnational' paradigm, is at odds with the processes inside many multinational firms. Second, we present both empirical findings from our own research as well as conceptual developments on the basis of the latest findings in the literature that can serve as a first preliminary basis for the theory development we intend to do. This basis is developed by discussing six areas that each address a significant problem of the 'Transnational' paradigm and point to promising directions for theory development. Finally, the research plan for this proposed project sets out how we want to structure our research by developing a conceptual model and hypotheses from our findings, and how we plan to collect data by two surveys to test these hypotheses. The results and findings can then serve to make a contribution towards closing the research gaps in our understanding of firm's international innovation activities.