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Previous research suggests creative ability peaks at ages between the mid 30s and early 40s, but has not focused on the role of age-related changes in cognitive abilities in this pattern. Cognitive processes show aging-related increases in experience-based knowledge (pragmatics or crystallized abilities) and decreases in the ability to process novel information quickly and efficiently (mechanics or fluid abilities). We explore the role of these age-related changes in the invention process, using a new database created by combining the publicly available patent data with information on inventor ages scraped from directory websites for approximately 1.2 million U.S.-resident inventors patenting between 1976 and 2017. We have made these data publicly available on the Harvard Dataverse and full documentation can be found in Kaltenberg et al. (2021) In the current paper, we present some descriptive statistics, and explore changing patterns of invention as inventor's age. For solo inventors, backward citations and originality increase with age, consistent with their being connected to crystallized intelligence. Forward citations, number of claims, and generality measures, as well as a citation-based measure of disruptiveness decline with inventor age, consistent with a connection to fluid intelligence. A similar pattern was found for performance in teams based on the average age of inventors in the team. Exploration of age diversity showed that teams with a wider age range had patents that are slightly more important (i.e., with more forward citations). Merging of these new data with other data that capture diverse aspects of inventors' environment and incentives offers rich potential for new research on invention.
One of the most universal trends in science and technology today is the growth of large teams in all areas, as solitary researchers and small teams diminish in prevalence1–3. Increases in team size have been attributed to the specialization of scientific activities³, improvements in communication technology4,5, or the complexity of modern problems that require interdisciplinary solutions6–8. This shift in team size raises the question of whether and how the character of the science and technology produced by large teams differs from that of small teams. Here we analyse more than 65 million papers, patents and software products that span the period 1954–2014, and demonstrate that across this period smaller teams have tended to disrupt science and technology with new ideas and opportunities, whereas larger teams have tended to develop existing ones. Work from larger teams builds on more-recent and popular developments, and attention to their work comes immediately. By contrast, contributions by smaller teams search more deeply into the past, are viewed as disruptive to science and technology and succeed further into the future—if at all. Observed differences between small and large teams are magnified for higher-impact work, with small teams known for disruptive work and large teams for developing work. Differences in topic and research design account for a small part of the relationship between team size and disruption; most of the effect occurs at the level of the individual, as people move between smaller and larger teams. These results demonstrate that both small and large teams are essential to a flourishing ecology of science and technology, and suggest that, to achieve this, science policies should aim to support a diversity of team sizes.
A substantial body of research has documented age-related declines in cognitive abilities among adults over 60, yet there is much less known about changes in cognitive abilities during midlife. The goal was to examine longitudinal changes in multiple cognitive domains from early midlife through old age in a large national sample, the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study.
The Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (BTACT) was administered on two occasions (MIDUS 2, MIDUS 3), an average of 9 years apart. At MIDUS 3, those with the cognitive assessment (N=2518) ranged in age from 42 to 92 years (M=64.30; SD=11.20) and had a mean education of 14.68 years (SD=2.63). The BTACT includes assessment of key aging-sensitive cognitive domains: immediate and delayed free recall, number series, category fluency, backward digit span, processing speed, and reaction time for attention switching and inhibitory control, which comprise two factors: episodic memory and executive functioning.
As predicted, all cognitive subtests and factors showed very small but significant declines over 9 years, with differences in the timing and extent of change. Processing speed showed the earliest and steepest decrements. Those with higher educational attainment scored better on all tests except reaction time. Men had better executive functioning and women performed better on episodic memory.
Examining cognitive changes in midlife provides opportunities for early detection of cognitive impairments and possibilities for preventative interventions. (JINS, 2018, 22, 000-000).
We establish the importance of team-specific capital in the typical inventor's career. Using administrative tax and patent data for the population of US patent inventors from 1996 to 2012 and the premature deaths of 4,714 inventors, we find that an inventor's premature death causes a large and long-lasting decline in their co-inventor's earnings and citation-weighted patents (-4% and -15% after 8 years, respectively). We rule out firm disruption, network effects and top-down spillovers as primary drivers of this result. Consistent with the team-specific capital interpretation, the effect is larger for more closely-knit teams and primarily applies to co-invention activities.
Comment les travailleurs âgés, après l’âge de 55 ans, peuvent-ils se maintenir et s’adapter à un milieu de travail en évolution? En explorant cette question, cette étude a examiné précisément comment les changements liés à l’âge touchent aux travailleurs, comment les travailleurs âgés font face à une perte de ressources, comment ils s’engagent dans la gestion de leur vie, et pourquoi certains parmi eux réussissent plus que d’autres. Une analyse profondie a été réalisée en utilisant 32 entretiens semi-directifs menés avec les travailleurs âgés de 55 a 64 ans. Une analyse profondie a été réalisée en utilisant 32 entretiens semi-directifs menés avec les travailleurs âgés de 55 a 64 ans. Nos conclusions suggèrent que les travailleurs les plus vieux utilisent diverses stratégies pour s’adapter à un changement de ressources, et que ces stratégies les aident à se débrouiller et maintenir leur fonctionnement dans leur milieu de travail. Comme les plus vieux travailleurs exigent des types différents de soutien d’employeur, notre étude fournit une compréhension de comment les employeurs peuvent fournir ce soutien pour encourager de plus vieux travailleurs pour rester dans la main-d’oeuvre plus longue. Nous suggérons aussi plusieurs avenues pour la recherche future, y compris explorer le rôle de sources internes de soutien.
Research on organizational diversity, heterogeneity, and related concepts has prolif- erated in the past decade, but few consistent findings have emerged. We argue that the construct of diversity requires closer examination. We describe three distinctive types of diversity: separation, variety, and disparity. Failure to recognize the meaning, maximum shape, and assumptions underlying each type has held back theory devel- opment and yielded ambiguous research conclusions. We present guidelines for conceptualization, measurement, and theory testing, highlighting the special case of demographic diversity
This paper uses register-linked patent records covering an extended period 1985-2007 to analyze detailed demographic profiles of inventors. The analysis covers about 80 percent of all inventors with Swedish addresses listed on European Patent Office records. Examining temporal trends of gender, age, and education shows that the body of inventors is becoming more balanced in gender, younger, and more educated. However, the rate at which female inventors are entering into patenting has slowed down since the early 2000’s compared to the mid-1990s. Moreover, comparing the inventor sample with the entire population of Sweden reveals that 1) the closing of the gender gap in inventing is not taking place at the same rate as among Ph.D. holders and that 2) the dependence of inventing on the highly educated (especially, Ph.D. holders) is being intensified over time, but the number of highly educated is growing faster among the general population than among inventors. Finally, the analysis shows that there is significant heterogeneity in the composition and tendency of gender, age, and education of inventors across technology fields.
Workgroup diversity can be conceptualized as variety, separation, or disparity. Thus, the proper operationalization of diversity depends on how a diversity dimension has been defined. Analytically, the minimal diversity must be obtained when there are no differences on an attribute among the members of a group, however maximal diversity has a different shape for each conceptualization of diversity. Previous work on diversity indexes indicated maximum values for variety (e.g., Blau's index and Teachman's index), separation (e.g., standard deviation and mean Euclidean distance), and disparity (e.g., coefficient of variation and the Gini coefficient of concentration), although these maximum values are not valid for all group characteristics (i.e., group size and group size parity) and attribute scales (i.e., number of categories). We demonstrate analytically appropriate upper boundaries for conditional diversity determined by some specific group characteristics, avoiding the bias related to absolute diversity. This will allow applied researchers to make better interpretations regarding the relationship between group diversity and group outcomes.
Data on Nobel Laureates show that the age-creativity relationship varies substantially more over time than across fields. The age dynamics within fields closely mirror field-specific shifts in (i) training patterns and (ii) the prevalence of theoretical contributions. These dynamics are especially pronounced in physics and coincide with the emergence of quantum mechanics. Taken together, these findings show fundamental shifts in the life cycle of research productivity, inform theories of the age-creativity relationship, and provide observable predictors for the age at which great achievements are made.
Adult age differences in a variety of cognitive abilities are well documented, and many of those abilities have been found to be related to success in the workplace and in everyday life. However, increased age is seldom associated with lower levels of real-world functioning, and the reasons for this lab-life discrepancy are not well understood. This article briefly reviews research concerned with relations of age to cognition, relations of cognition to successful functioning outside the laboratory, and relations of age to measures of work performance and achievement. The final section discusses several possible explanations for why there are often little or no consequences of age-related cognitive declines in everyday functioning.
The relationship between age and the publishing productivity of Ph.D. scientists is analyzed using data from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (National Research Council) and the Science Citation Index. The longitudinal nature of the data allows for the identification of pure aging effects. In five of the six areas studied, life-cycle aging effects are present. Only in particle physics, where scientists often speak of being on a "religious quest," is the indication that scientific productivity is not investment-motivated. Vintage effects are also considered. The expectation that the latest educated are the most productive is not generally supported by the data. Copyright 1991 by American Economic Association.
During the past decades, population aging, later retirements, and a shift to team-based work have left organizations with challenges associated with age-diverse teams and retirement from a team-based work structure. However, limited research has investigated the interplays between teams, aging, and retirement. Here, we overview the research at the intersection on aging and teams and discuss how aging is often a proxy for variables of organizational interest. Next, we outline the challenges associated with age-related faultlines and age discrimination. We then highlight areas for future research, such as team cognition and compositional changes associated with teammate retirement. Lastly, we discuss inclusive diversity training and bidirectional mentorships as potential organizational interventions for more cohesive age-diverse teams.
Research on the effects of increasing workplace diversity has grown substantially. Unfortunately, little is focused on the healthcare industry, leaving organizations to make decisions based on conflicting findings regarding the association of diversity with quality and financial outcomes. To help improve the evidence-based research, this umbrella review summarizes diversity research specific to healthcare. We also look at studies focused on professional skills relevant to healthcare. The goal is to assess the association between diversity, innovation, patient health outcomes, and financial performance.
Medical and business research indices were searched for diversity studies published since 1999. Only meta-analyses and large-scale studies relating diversity to a financial or quality outcome were included. The research also had to include the healthcare industry or involve a related skill, such as innovation, communication and risk assessment.
Most of the sixteen reviews matching inclusion criteria demonstrated positive associations between diversity, quality and financial performance. Healthcare studies showed patients generally fare better when care was provided by more diverse teams. Professional skills-focused studies generally find improvements to innovation, team communications and improved risk assessment. Financial performance also improved with increased diversity. A diversity-friendly environment was often identified as a key to avoiding frictions that come with change.
Diversity can help organizations improve both patient care quality and financial results. Return on investments in diversity can be maximized when guided deliberately by existing evidence. Future studies set in the healthcare industry, will help leaders better estimate diversity-related benefits in the context of improved health outcomes, productivity and revenue streams, as well as the most efficient paths to achieve these goals.
We establish the importance of team-specific capital in the typical inventor's career. Using administrative tax and patent data for the population of US patent inventors from 1996 to 2012, we find that an inventor's premature death causes a large and long-lasting decline in their co-inventor's earnings and citation-weighted patents (−4 percent and −15 percent after 8 years, respectively). After ruling out firm disruption, network effects, and top-down spillovers as main channels, we show that the effect is driven by close-knit teams and that team-specific capital largely results from an “experience'' component increasing collaboration value over time.
This article outlines a network approach to the study of technological change. We propose that new inventions reshape networks of interlinked technologies by shifting inventors’ attention to or away from the knowledge on which those inventions build. Using this approach, we develop novel indexes of the extent to which a new invention consolidates or destabilizes existing technology streams. We apply these indexes in analyses of university research commercialization and find that, although federal research funding pushes campuses to create inventions that are more destabilizing, deeper commercial ties lead them to produce technologies that consolidate the status quo. By quantifying the effects that new technologies have on their predecessors, the indexes we propose allow patent-based studies of innovation to capture conceptually important phenomena that are not detectable with established measures. The measurement approach presented here offers empirical insights that support theoretical development in studies of innovation, entrepreneurship, technology strategy, science policy, and social network theory.
This paper was accepted by Lee Fleming, entrepreneurship and innovation.
The pace of industrial innovation and growth is shaped by many forces that interact in complicated ways. Profit-maximizing firms pursue new ideas to obtain market power, but the pursuit of the same goal by others means that even successful inventions are eventually superseded by others; this is known as creative destruction. New ideas not only yield new goods but also enrich the stock of knowledge of society and its potential to produce new ideas. To a great extent, this knowledge is nonexcludable, making research and inventions the source of powerful spillovers. The extent of spillovers depends on the rate at which new ideas outdate old ones, i.e., on the endogenous technological obsolescence of ideas, and on the rate at which knowledge diffuses among inventors. In this paper we build a simple model that allows us to organize our search for the empirical strength of the concepts emphasized in the preceding. We then use data on patents and patent citations as empirical counterparts of new ideas and knowledge spillovers, respectively, to estimate the model parameters. We find estimates of the average annual rate of creative destruction in the range of 2-7% for the decade of the 1970s, with rates for individual sectors as high as 25%. For technological obsolescence, we find an increase over the century from about 3% per year to about 12% per year in 1990, with a noticeable plateau in the 1970s. We find the rate of diffusion of knowledge to be quite rapid, with the mean lag between one and two years. Last, we find that the potency of spillovers from old ideas to new knowledge generation (as evidenced by patent citation rates) has been declining over the century; the resulting decline in the effective public stock of knowledge available to new inventors is quite consistent with the observed decline in the average private productivity of research inputs.
The authors study the relation between workers’ age and their productivity in work teams, based on a new and unique data set that combines data on errors occurring in the production process of a large car manufacturer with detailed information on the personal characteristics of workers related to the errors. The authors correct for non-random sample selection and the potential endogeneity of the age-composition in work teams. The results suggest that productivity in this plant which is typical for large-scale manufacturing does not decline at least up to age 60.
Although the study of midlife has increased somewhat over the last decade, middle-aged adults are often omitted from research on adult development and aging. Possible reasons for the lack of attention to middle age are considered and recommendations for ways to increase research on midlife are suggested to generate new knowledge and to dispel the myths. Findings related to the happiness curve and the midlife crisis are discussed in the context of addressing misconceptions. A model of midlife as a pivotal period in the life course at the intersection of growth and decline is presented. Closing the research gap in the middle of the life course will help to further our understanding of this understudied age period. The findings can inform interventions to promote well-being among the middle-aged with concomitant benefits for the welfare of those younger and older who depend on them.
We extend a unified and easy-to-use approach to measurement error and missing data. In our companion article, Blackwell, Honaker, and King give an intuitive overview of the new technique, along with practical suggestions and empirical applications. Here, we offer more precise technical details, more sophisticated measurement error model specifications and estimation procedures, and analyses to assess the approach’s robustness to correlated measurement errors and to errors in categorical variables. These results support using the technique to reduce bias and increase efficiency in a wide variety of empirical research.
This paper investigates a possibly fundamental aspect of technological progress. If knowledge accumulates as technology advances, then successive generations of innovators may face an increasing educational burden. Innovators can compensate through lengthening educational phases and narrowing expertise, but these responses come at the cost of reducing individual innovative capacities, with implications for the organization of innovative activity - a greater reliance on teamwork - and negative implications for growth. Building on this "burden of knowledge" mechanism, this paper first presents six facts about innovator behaviour. I show that age at first invention, specialization, and teamwork increase over time in a large micro-data set of inventors. Furthermore, in cross-section, specialization and teamwork appear greater in deeper areas of knowledge, while, surprisingly, age at first invention shows little variation across fields. A model then demonstrates how these facts can emerge in tandem. The theory further develops explicit implications for economic growth, providing an explanation for why productivity growth rates did not accelerate through the 20th century despite an enormous expansion in collective research effort. Upward trends in academic collaboration and lengthening doctorates, which have been noted in other research, can also be explained in this framework. The knowledge burden mechanism suggests that the nature of innovation is changing, with negative implications for long-run economic growth.
This study evaluates the cumulated empirical evidence on 6 common age stereotypes. These stereotypes suggest that older workers are: (a) less motivated, (b) generally less willing to participate in training and career development, (c) more resistant and less willing to change, (d) less trusting, (e) less healthy, and (f) more vulnerable to work‐family imbalance. The meta‐analysis included 418 empirical studies (N= 208,204) and examined the relationships of age to 39 variables representing the content domain of age stereotypes. The only stereotype consistent with empirical evidence is that older workers are less willing to participate in training and career development activities. The paper concludes with implications for future theory development and management practice.
Assessment of cognitive functioning is an important component of telephone surveys of health. Previous cognitive telephone batteries have been limited in scope with a primary focus on dementia screening. The Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (BTACT) assesses multiple dimensions central for effective functioning across adulthood: episodic memory, working memory, reasoning, verbal fluency, and executive function. The BTACT is the first instrument that includes measures of processing speed, reaction time, and task-switching/inhibitory control for use over the telephone. We administered the battery to a national sample (N = 4,268), age 32 to 84 years, from the study of Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) and examined age, education, and sex differences; reliability; and factor structure. We found good evidence for construct validity with a subsample tested in person. Implications of the findings are considered for efficient neuropsychological assessment and monitoring changes in cognitive aging, for clinical and research applications by telephone or in person.
We estimate the impact of workforce diversity on productivity, wages and productivity-wage gaps (i.e. profits) using detailed Belgian linked employer-employee panel data. Findings, robust to a large set of covariates, specifications and econometric issues, show that educational (age) diversity is beneficial (harmful) for firm productivity and wages. The consequences of gender diversity are found to depend on the technological/knowledge environment of firms. While gender diversity generates significant gains in high-tech/ knowledge intensive sectors, the opposite result is obtained in more traditional industries. Overall, findings do not point to sizeable productivity-wage gaps except for age diversity.
Previous research on top management team heterogeneity and firm performance has focused almost exclusively on the non-visible attributes (e.g. functional background, tenure) of cultural diversity as opposed to the visible attributes (e.g. age, race and gender). The few studies there are show inconsistent results. For example, most field work - consistent with social identity theory notions - shows that cultural diversity, in isolation has negative organizational consequences. Only a few laboratory studies, however - consistent with information and decision-making theories - show that diversity in groups relates to favourable organizational outcomes. As social identity theory suggests, we find that top management team (TMT) age heterogeneity, in isolation, relates negatively to return on assets. On sales growth (i.e. organizational growth), the relationship is positive, lending support for information and decision-making theories. However, we find a curvilinear relationship between TMT age heterogeneity and sales growth, supporting both the mid-range theories. More specifically, TMT age heterogeneity is positively related to sales growth at low and medium levels and negatively related to sales growth at high levels. In addition, results reveal that context moderates linear and non-linear relationships. The results provide evidence of the importance of cultural diversity in TMTs for competitive advantage but also suggest the complexities of increasing it to observe these benefits.
Criticisms of the index of citation are presented. Data are cited to bolster the thesis "that the age decrement in outstanding scientific creativity is not an artifact but a fact." Major sections are: The Index of Citation and How It Was Obtained, What Historians of Science Think of the Index of Citation, New Data, and The Findings of Some Outstanding Scholars. "Older men may be more scholarly, but they do not usually exhibit more originality than do younger ones." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Lehman in Age and Achievement provides data in the form of works cited in histories of art, science, and other fields and finds that they "very frequently indicate that many fewer significant contributions are made in the later decades of life than in earlier periods… . Taken at their face value, these studies indicate a drastic reduction in the output of outstanding works in the later part of the life span." But the "apparent decline in the output of significant works in the later decades of life may be merely a reflection of the behavior of historians and others with regard to their treatment of historical epochs. The present paper addresses itself to the examination of citation practices of historians and anthologists as they are related to the study of aging… . A more reasonable interpretation of the facts seems to be that, as the total output of science has increased, the percentage of literature cited by historians has declined." The trend toward increase in scientific literature "has necessitated a change in the behavior of historians." 18 refs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper presents empirical evidence of the relationship between faculty entrepreneurial activity—quantified in terms of the propensity of U.S. university faculty to work directly with industry on research activities that lead to patents—and human capital, measured in terms of faculty tenure and age. Patenting reflects a unique dimension of faculty entrepreneurship, namely, collaborative activity that results in joint intellectual property. We find that faculty with tenure are more likely to engage in such activity, thus providing suggestive evidence of an externality associated with permanent employment. We also find that older faculty are more likely to engage with industry, to a point, holding tenure constant. Tenure and age proxy, respectively, what we call the “accumulated advantage” of faculty and their absorptive capacity. Because faculty patenting with industry involved both parties, our findings reflect that such faculty experience and expertise are important to industry to enter into a patenting relationship. Finally, we find that male faculty are more likely to patent with industry than female faculty.
This paper is an attempt to quantify key aspects of innovations, 'basicness' and appropriability, and explore the linkages between them. We rely on detailed patent data. particularly on patent citations, thus awarding the proposed measures a very wide coverage. Relying on the prior that universities perform more basic research than corporations, we find that forward-looking measures of 'importance' and 'generality' capture aspects of the basicness of innovations. Similarly, measures of the degree of reliance on scientific sources. and of the closeness to the origins of innovational paths, appear to reflect the basicness of research. As measures of appropriability we use the fraction of citations coming from patents awarded to the sarne inventor, and in fact these measures are much higher for corporations than fbr universities. An examination of a small number of patents that are universally recognized as 'basic' provides further support for these measures. We find also evidence of the existence of 'technologl trajectories'.
Psychologists have found that the age at which successful practitioners typically do their best work varies across professions, but they have not considered whether these peak ages change over time, as economic models suggest they might. Using auction records, we estimate the relationship between artists' ages and the value of their paintings for two successive cohorts of leading modern American painters: de Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, and others born during 19001920 and Frank Stella, Warhol, and others born during 192140. We find that a substantial decline occurred over time in the age at which these artists produced their most valuableand most importantwork and argue that this was caused by a shift in the nature of the demand for modern art during the 1950s.
Cross-sectional comparisons have consistently revealed that increased age is associated with lower levels of cognitive performance, even in the range from 18 to 60 years of age. However, the validity of cross-sectional comparisons of cognitive functioning in young and middle-aged adults has been questioned because of the discrepant age trends found in longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses. The results of the current project suggest that a major factor contributing to the discrepancy is the masking of age-related declines in longitudinal comparisons by large positive effects associated with prior test experience. Results from three methods of estimating retest effects in this project, together with results from studies comparing non-human animals raised in constant environments and from studies examining neurobiological variables not susceptible to retest effects, converge on a conclusion that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s.
Despite the apparent decline in productivity in the final years of life, seven considerations suggest a far more favorable outlook: the actual magnitude of the age decrement; the role of extrinsic influences; the contingency on career age; the impact of individual differences in creative potential; the interdisciplinary variation in the age curves; the virtual absence of an age decrement on a contribution-for-contribution basis; and the resurgence of creativity in the form of the swan-song phenomenon.