Michele Boldrin (Washington University in Saint Louis), Quality Ladders, Competition and Endogenous Growth, Political Economy Seminar, Toulouse: TSE, September 21, 2009, 17:00–18:30, room MF 323.


We examine a theory of competitive innovation in which new ideas are introduced only when diminishing returns to the use of existing ideas sets in. After an idea is introduced, the knowledge capital associated with that idea expands, and its value falls. Once the value falls far enough, it becomes profitable to introduce a new idea. The resulting theory is consistent with fixed costs of innovation and it accounts for the same facts as the existing theory of monopolistic innovation. However, there is evidence that innovation frequently takes place in the absence of monopoly power and that it is driven by diminishing returns on existing ideas – two facts that the existing theory cannot account for.