Haris Tabakovic (Harvard Business School and The Brattle Group)
Paper: “From Revolving Doors to Regulatory Capture? Evidence from Patent Examiners" (paper joint with Thomas Wollmann, University of Chicago)
ABSTRACT: Many regulatory agency employees are hired by the firms they regulate, creating a “revolving door” between government and the private sector. We study these transitions using detailed data from the US Patent and Trademark Office. We find that patent examiners grant significantly more patents to the firms that later hire them, that much of this leniency extends to prospective employers, and that these effects are strongest in years when firms are actively hiring. Ultimately, this leads the agency to issue lower quality patents, which we measure in citations. We argue these results are suggestive of regulatory capture.