General popularity vs. niche success - How much do competitors care about my patents?

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Lehrstuhl für Wirtschaftswissenschaften für Ingenieure und Naturwissenschaftler



Innovation is a key driver for companies' long term success. Sure, all companies can be called innovative in some form. However, they differentiate significantly in how their research is regarded by other firms. While some firms’ research is in the spotlight and many follow them (e.g. Tesla), other firms operate in a niche and their research seems rather unimportant to others (e.g. Otto Bock).


The aim of the master thesis is to understand what distinguishes the two groups of innovators above and determine which type is more successful. For that purpose, students will collect data on large firms' innovation strategy, visible in their patent portfolio. Criteria will be defined to classify the collected patent data: Is the patent cited by others or just few, are those followers within the industry or outside the industry? The main source will be Google Patents that provides public access to such information, and has become a dominant source in innovation research. Measures for success can be chosen by the student.


Since this topic qualifies as an empirical Master thesis, there will be less emphasis on synthesizing the existing literature and more on a sound analysis. Nonetheless, students have to provide theory-based hypotheses and use the collected data to test them. A clear set of expectations will be discussed with the student at the very beginning, and hands-on methodological support throughout the thesis is guaranteed. Starting literature is also available.
Excel/STATA skills or the willingness to learn is expected (intro material is available), as well as the ability for independent data research is a must.

The thesis can be written in German, however, we recommend writing in English since 95% of the literature is in English.

We look forward to your application via email
- Short introduction of yourself and why the topic interest you
- Attach your CV, including your grades

Keywords: Innovation, Innovation Strategy, Exploitation vs. Exploration