Associate Professor, Strategy
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
My main areas of interest are the economics of innovation and science, creativity and the impact of technology on society. I investigate factors that influence the rate and direction of technological advancements, such as research tools, collaborations and breadth and depth of expertise, and the impact of technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence and quantum computers, on business strategy and productivity.
Patents are key strategic resources which enable firms to appropriate innovation returns and prevent rival imitation. Patent examiners – individuals who may be subject to various sources of bias – play a central role in determining which inventions are awarded patent rights. Using a novel dataset, we explore if one increasingly prevalent source of bias – political ideology – manifests in examiner decision-making. Reassuringly, our analysis suggests that the political ideology of patent examiners is largely unrelated to patent office outcomes. However, we do find evidence suggesting politically active conservative-leaning examiners are more likely to grant patents relative to politically active liberal-leaning examiners, but only for patent applications where there is ambiguity regarding what constitutes patentable subject matter and hence examiners have greater discretion.