Analyzing trajectories of technological knowledge

Presented my paper on a topic modelling approach to knowledge depth and breadth, which analyzed the trajectories of technological knowledge diversity in a set of telecommunication companies. The paper extends the earlier work with Hannes Toivanen and Marko Seppänen on Firms’ knowledge profiles published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change. The abstract of the paper is below.

Technology assessment and planning requires that we can reliably, but indirectly, measure knowledge embedded in the organization. Operationalizing knowledge embedded into companies is increasingly challenging but also more and more relevant in the current cross-disciplinary and complex technological environment. Existing approaches for operationalizing company knowledge are based on patent data and analyzing patent classifications. These approaches have, however, significant limitations. In this study, knowledge depth and breadth is studied using full-text patent data from seven large telecommunication companies totaling 157,718 patents. The data was analyzed with Latent Dirichlet Allocation, an unsupervised learning method. The results are quantified using a technological diversity metric, showing temporal changes in companies knowledge. The result show how the operationalization of company knowledge is independent of patent count and that companies have their specific trajectory of knowledge development. The approach offers a novel method of analyzing the knowledge trajectory of a company, compared to existing patent classification based methods.

The featured image shows companies in the sample that have an increasing technological diversity with in the sample period.  This strong trend is understandable by the companies strategy to diversify from from software to hardware and Google patenting outside of its core software business. Microsoft and Huawei also have an increasing technological diversification trend. This trend is more subtle than that of Google and could be argued to stem from both companies diversification to different hardware domains, namely tablets and other hand-held devices

The presentation slides are available from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Slideshare. The paper is available from the author.


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