A Framework for Analyzing the Underlying Inventions That Drive Technical Improvements in a Specific Technological Field

Christopher L Benson, Christopher L. Magee


This paper presents a repeatable method to identify, describe and analyze the important inventions in an industry. The method involves qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis of patents to understand the inventions that have contributed to the growth of an industry. We present a process for mapping the inventions by their importance in an attempt to understand the set of inventions that contribute most significantly to the development of an industry. As a demonstration of the method, a set of 2484 patented inventions in the solar PV industry was selected as a case study. The case study results show that the conceptual basis for the method is useful in understanding technological change in an industry. For example, the analysis identifies important PV patents but none that are discontinuously important. These findings support the probable utility of the framework and have some preliminary broader implications to our understanding of technological development.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/emr.v1n1p2


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