Patentability, R&D Direction, and Cumulative Innovation

Yongmin CHEN, Shiyuan PAN, Tianle ZHANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We present a model where firms conduct R&D in both a safe and a risky direction. As patentability standards rise, an innovation in the risky direction is less likely to receive a patent, which decreases the static incentive for new entrants to conduct risky R&D but can increase their dynamic incentive. These, together with a strategic substitution and a market structure effect, result in an inverted-U shape in the risky direction but a U shape in the safe direction for the relationship between R&D intensity and patentability standards. R&D is biased toward (against) the risky direction under lower (higher) standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1969-1993
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Economic Review
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Shiyuan Pan gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Key Project of the National Social Science Foundation of China (No. 15AJY003) and the Project of the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars of the Ministry of Education of China. Tianle Zhang gratefully acknowledges the Hong Kong Research Grant Council for research support under Grant #23501215.


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