DRUID conference edition:36 location:Copenhagen, Denmark date:16/18 June 2014
Interpreting technological invention as an evolutionary and recombinant search process, we study the effect of technology brokering, i.e. creating new inventions by combining formerly disconnected but familiar technology components, on the likelihood of inventing more useful and particularly breakthrough inventions. For evidence, we consider 26 years of the US patent record in biotechnology. We find that recombining more familiar components and creating new component combinations stimulate average usefulness and likelihood of breakthrough. In particular, interaction effects illustrate how recombining more familiar components continues to foster the creation of more useful and breakthrough inventions but only as long as the familiar components are recombined in unprecedented ways.