Knowledge competition and knowledge growth

Why do domains of knowledge advance at different rates? To answer this question, we study in this paper the effect of competition between domains of knowledge. Based on all the knowledge patented in the United States between 1975 and 1999, we find that the more a domain draws from a niche of knowledge sources also tapped by other domains, the lower its growth rate; and dynamically, increasing niche crowding is associated with decreasing growth rates. In addition to helping to explain an unexplored yet relevant dynamics of the knowledge-based economy, our study has implications for R&D investment and policy decisions.
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