Innovative public procurement is increasingly considered as a form of public support for private innovation activities by both innovation scholars and policymakers. Economic historians have suggested an even more fundamental role of public procurement in setting the pace of technological change, reporting how defense-related procurement has had a major impact on the emergence and diffusion of many general purpose technologies developed in the United States in the 20th century. In this paper, I suggest that procurement might represent one of the most important elements in creating the right soil to ‘cultivate’ a technology that may have the potential to reach high levels of pervasiveness. To test this hypothesis, I make use of patent data and patent citations. I design a quasi-experiment to compare the changes in the level of generality level over time, between a group of treated and a group of control patents. A patent is assigned to the treatment group if it receives a citation from a patent related to public procurement. Results suggest a positive and significant impact of innovative public procurement on the generality of a patent.
- Conditional difference-in-differences
- General purpose technologies
- Patent data
- Public procurement