Small Businesses Are More Active as Inventors Than as Innovators in the Innovation Process

PAD-82-19: Published: Dec 31, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 31, 1981.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO analyzed nine studies of the sources and contributions of small business invention and innovation. The studies were classified into three categories: studies that examine the relationship of firm size to invention and innovation; empirical studies of other aspects of invention and innovation; and reports that integrate the work of others.

Because the scope and objectives of the studies examined are so different, only broad generalizations can be drawn. Although GAO was not able to generalize the likely level of future contributions by small businesses to invention and innovation, it found no evidence suggesting that they might be less important to invention and innovation than in the past. Further research will be required to clearly understand the effect of the factors that influence small businesses' activities in the innovation process and to specifically determine the amount of invention and innovation contributed by them.

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