Article

Knowledge Spillovers, Peer Effects, and Telecommuting: Evidence from the U.S. Patent Office

Authors:

Melissa Feeney Wasserman, Michael Frakes

198 Journal of Public Economics

Abstract

We find strong evidence of peer influence in granting behaviors among patent examiners. In the face of a one standard-deviation increase in the inherent grant rate of her peers, an examiner in her first two years at the Patent Office will experience a 0.15 standard-deviation increase in her own grant rate. Moreover, we document a number of markers suggesting that such influences arise, in part, through knowledge spillovers, as distinct from peer-pressure mechanisms. Finally, drawing on variations in peer proximity due to the onset of telecommuting—both with respect to peer and focal examiner telecommuting experiences—we document evidence that examiner peer influences and knowledge flows are stronger when examiners work at the Patent Office, as opposed to working from home.

Full Citation

Melissa Feeney Wasserman, Michael Frakes, Knowledge Spillovers, Peer Effects, and Telecommuting: Evidence from the U.S. Patent Office, 198 Journal of Public Economics (2021). View Online