The Inventor Balance and the Functional Specialization in Global Inventive Activities
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We study the functional specialization whereby some countries contribute relatively more inventors vs. organizations in the production of inventions at a global scale. We propose a conceptual framework to explain this type of functional specialization, which posits the presence of feedbacks between two distinct sub-systems, each one providing inventors and organizations. We quantify the phenomenon by means of a new metric, the “inventor balance”, which we compute using patent data. We show that the observed imbalances, which are often conspicuous, are determined by several factors: the innovativeness of a country relative to its level of economic development, relative factor endowments, the degree of technological specialization and, last, cultural traits. We argue that the “inventor balance” is a useful indicator for policy makers, and its routine analysis could lead to better informed innovation policies.