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Innovation in the emerging economy of China: Transnational patenting and citation trajectories

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posted on 2020-05-14, 09:50 authored by Ankit GUGLANI

Intellectual property rights (IPR), specifically patents, have increasingly played a central role in empirical research on innovation. Patents provide rich, finegrained details on innovation by precisely identifying the inventors, assignees, regions, times and innovative characteristics of every filed invention. Patent citations often serve as a proxy for approximating knowledge flow and spillovers. They also serve as a proxy for ascertaining the importance of knowledge being patented. One must remember that citations are a comparative measure and as such differences in policies regarding citation would not only affect the absolute numbers but also, its derived measures such as importance. In other words, citations received by a patent from patents filed in a low IPR protection region (like China) may not be more indicative of actual knowledge transfer than those from a patent filed in a high IPR protection region (say the U.S.). It may thus also be more indicative of the importance of the cited work.

In this thesis, we compare citation trajectories of matching patents granted for the same invention in both China and the U.S. and put forth four propositions related to patent citations. We find that patents filed in China are cited less than their counterparts in the U.S., and have a higher percentage of foreign citations. Within China, we find that patents from regions with high relative technological advantage receive more citations, though this does not hold true for regions with high specialization. These findings have implications for the measurement of the value of innovations as well as for intellectual property policy and firm strategy.


Document type

  • Master thesis

Degree awarded

MSc in Management

Year degree awarded



Huang, Kenneth

Committee members

Gilbert TAN; GENG Xuesong

SMU School

  • Lee Kong Chian School of Business

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