Inventive productivity

Francis Narin, Anthony Breitzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


The 1926 observation by Lotka that the number of highly productive scientists was a relatively small fraction of all scientists has been extended to patented technology. Specifically, Lotka observed that for every 100 scientists who produce one paper there are approximately 100 22, or 25, who produce two papers, 100 32, or 11, who produce three, etc., with only one scientist in the set who will produce ten papers. An investigation of the number of patents per inventor was carried out for four companies, two American and two Japanese, in the area of semiconductors. For all four cases a Lotka-like distribution was found, with a relatively small number of highly productive inventors with their names on ten or more patents, and a large number of inventors with their names on only one, and a general factor of ten difference in productivity between the most- and the least-productive inventors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-519
Number of pages13
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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