美國創新黃金時代的經驗教訓

Lessons from America's Golden Age of Innovation
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內容根據數十年的專利數據資料。改編自烏富克.阿克西吉特、約翰.格里斯比、湯姆.尼古拉斯刊登於《哈佛商業評論》的文章。

最近的數據顯示,創新的成長速度正在減緩。為了解原因,阿克西吉特、格里斯比、尼古拉斯回顧了創新的黃金時代。19世紀末和20世紀初,美國出現一些頂尖的技術先驅,像是電氣照明的愛迪生和特斯拉,電話領域的貝爾和格雷。其實,美國在這個時期產生數百萬的專利發明,但當時的技術發展環境與現在很不一樣。

首先,在1880年,大多數創新都發生在公司之外。但到了2000年,近80%的專利授予公司內部的創新者。不過,創新與經濟成長的關係密切。研究人員發現,某個州的人均發明人數量,與其GDP之間有很強的關連。例如,麻州這樣的創新州,在1900至2000年擁有的專利數,是懷俄明州的四倍,人均GDP的成長率也較高,即使考慮另外幾項因素之後仍是如此。

研究人員也檢視創新與貧富不均之間的關係。在所得最高1%的人占整體收入比率較高的州當中,創新水準也較高,原因可能是專利的財務獎勵和相關的壟斷權。

但研究人員觀察貧富不均的更廣泛指標時,發現在創新程度更高的州,貧富不均的程度普遍較低,也許是因為創新讓新進業者和小型企業主,得以追趕上較富有的既有業者。創新的趨勢是長期的。回顧過去,我們就能找到未來技術進步的靈感。

(劉純佑譯)


Based on the HBR article by Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, and Tom Nicholas

Recent data suggests that innovation’s rate of growth is slowing down. To understand why, Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, and Tom Nicholas look back to innovation’s golden age. The Late 19th and early 20th centuries are associated with some of America's leading technology pioneers, such as Edison and Tesla in electrical illumination, and Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray in telephony. In fact, the United States produced millions of patented inventions during this time, but the context for technological development was very different then.

For one thing, in 1880, most innovation happened outside firms. By the year 2000, however, almost 80% of patents were assigned to innovators operating within firms. Nevertheless, innovation and economic growth go hand in hand. The researchers found a strong relationship between the number of inventors per capita in a given state and its GDP. An innovative state like Massachusetts, for instance, which had four times as many patents as Wyoming from 1900 to 2000, also saw higher GDP growth per capita, even after accounting for several other factors.

The researchers also looked at the relationship between innovation and inequality. Indeed, innovation was higher in states where the top 1% held a larger share of income, possibly due to the financial rewards of patents and the associated monopoly rights.

But when the researchers looked at a broader measure of inequality, they found that it was generally lower in more innovative states -- perhaps because innovation permits new entrance and small business owners to catch up with wealthier incumbents. Trends in innovation occur over the long-term. By looking to the past, we can find inspiration for future technological progress.



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