Sitting on the Fence: Integrating the two worlds of scientific discovery and invention within the firm

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Applying a within-firm perspective to the topic of the division of innovative labor, I explore the organization of scientific discovery at the firm level — specialized or integrated with invention. Using data on inventors and authors related to U.S. publicly-traded science-performing firms for the period 1980–2015, the paper deepens our understanding of the determinants and the tradeoffs associated with the strategic choice of scientific discovery organization. I show that integration is related to a tradeoff between short-term applied R&D and long-term fundamental R&D; while integration is beneficial for invention, it has adverse effects on its scientific output, which decrease invention in the long run. The negative relationship between integration and publication reduces the direct increase in patents due to integration by approximately 90%. To better understand firms’ R&D organizational choice, I present internal and external factors that have implications on the benefits and costs associated with integration: reliance on science, stage of technology, external market for technology, and R&D spillins. Finally, I present consistent implications in terms of market value and show that value creation is related to organizational structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104550
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Corporate research
  • Division of labor
  • Innovation
  • Patents
  • R&D organizational structure


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