ABS&Comment: Griliches, R&D Productivity: The Econometric Evidence

Gretchen Whitney gwhitney at UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU
Tue Oct 26 21:21:53 EDT 1999

TITLE:  R&D Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, Chicago and London:
University of Chicago Press, 1998. p.xi+382
AUTHOR          Zvi Griliches
e-mail:  grilic at kuznets.fas.harvard.edu
[The following text  is by Eugene Garfield and is approved by the author.]
Econometrics is by definition a branch of economics that depends upon
quantitative information. Not surprisingly many economists have found
bilbiometrics useful in all sorts of journal analyses. But only a few
economists have been associated with the field of information science per
se. Some exceptions that come to mind are Fritz Machlup, Nobelist George
Stigler , his son Stephen Stigler and others like Milton Diamond, and Zvi
Griliches of Harvard University, the subject of this report.  Griliches has
published a great deal in an area that is identified with such luminaries as
Ed Mansfield, the recently deceased economist at the University of

Griliches  has now published a collection of his own papers under the title
"R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence"(Univ. of Chicago Press
1998. The book was just reviewed by F. M. Scherer of Harvard in the Economic
Journal  (109) p.F463-4, June 1999 published by Blackwell's for the Royal
Economic Society. Scherer makes explicit reference to patent citations but
infometricians know that all types of citation data have been used to
support various analyses of the R & D enterprise. The ultimate purpose of
studies like these have been to demonstrate a connection between basic and
applied research and economic productivity, GNP, etc. This is, of course, a
challenging  task and its implications have not been absorbed by the leaders
of the countries that need it most.  But even in the USA Congress is mainly
grossly ignorant of the role R&D plays in the economy. Mansfield's recent
premature death was a blow to the field.

What struck me as I read this book review is the role that this type of work
plays in the pantheon of publication genre. Whereas scientists publish
reviews of this type in journals, social scientists prefer the book model.
These become the surrogates for the original articles and so they can affect
the citation counts attributed to the primordial papers. Who knows, they may
in some cases increase them, but we really don't know. One of the papers in
the collection is Zvi's 1979 paper "Issues in assessing the contribution of
research and development to productivity growth," Bell Journal of Economics
10(1):92-116, 1979.  This paper has been cited over 175 times.  However, his
1984 paper with J. Hausman and B.H. Hall,  was even more popular...
"Econometric-models for count data with an application to the patents R&D
relationship,"  Econometrica 52: (4) 909-938 1984 which preceded another
popular work along the same lines...         "R&D, Patents, and Productivity
(National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report)" 1984.
Eugene Garfield, Ph.D.
Chairman Emeritus, ISI, 3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Publisher, THE SCIENTIST, 3600 Market St,
Philadelphia, PA 19104 (www.the-scientist.com)
Tel: 215-243-2205 // Fax: 215-387-1266
email:  garfield at codex.cis.upenn.edu
The Scientist: http://www.the-scientist.com
Home Page: http://garfield.library.upenn.edu


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