Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Economics

First Advisor's Name

Peter Thompson

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Cem Karayalcin

Third Advisor's Name

Prasad Bidarkota

Fourth Advisor's Name

Hassan Zahedi

Keywords

Firm Diversification, R&D, Information Asymmetry, Durable Goods, Network Effects, Knowledge Stocks

Date of Defense

9-16-2008

Abstract

This dissertation comprises three individual chapters. Chapter Two examines how free riding across neighbors influenced the diffusion of color television sets in rural China. Chapter Three tests for asymmetric information between a firm’s management and other investors concerning its patent output. Chapter Four discusses how knowledge stocks influence a patenting firm’s later diversification.

Chapter Two documents the existence of a type of network effects - free riding across neighbors - in the consumption of color television sets in rural China, which reduces the propensity of non-owners to purchase. I construct a model of the timing of the purchase of a durable good in the presence of free riding, and test its key implications using household survey data in rural China.

Chapter Three tests for asymmetric information between a firm’s management and other investors about its patent output by examining insider trading patterns and stock price changes in R&D intensive firms. It demonstrates that management has considerable information about its patent output beyond what is known to investors. It also shows that the predictive power of insider trading patterns on patent output comes from purchases rather than sales.

Chapter Four discusses two sequential channels through which knowledge stocks may influence a firm’s later diversification. One is that firms with more knowledge are more likely to enter a new industry. The other is that firms’ businesses have a better chance of surviving, conditional on being formed. By examining U.S. public patenting firms in manufacturing sectors for 1984-1996, I find that knowledge stocks predict the likelihood of new industry entry when controlling for firm size. However, this predictive power is weakened when diversification effects are included. On the other hand, a survival study of newly established segments shows that initial knowledge stocks have significant positive effects on segment survival, whereas diversification effects are insignificant.

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