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Productivity in innovation: the role of inventor connections and mobility

Favaro, Donata and Ninka, Eniel and Turvani, Margherita (2012): Productivity in innovation: the role of inventor connections and mobility.

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Abstract

We study the transmission of knowledge arising from working relationships established by inventors, and its impact on firms’ innovation production. The study’s contribution to the literature is twofold. First, we consider those relationships that originate through inventor connections (”multi-applicant” inventors) and inventor mobility. Second, we analyse their effect on companies’ innovation production. The study focuses on the role played by geographical proximity, and the dynamic effects of knowledge flows. The geographical question is dealt with on a detailed level, by measuring knowledge spillovers observed within the same Local Labour System (LLS), between different LLSs of the region and, finally, with extra-regional LLSs. Dynamics are captured by measuring inventor mobility and connections occurring up to 20 years before patent filing. The analysis is carried out on the Italian region of Veneto and is based upon the original OECD REGPAT database of patent applications filed at the European Patent Office. The manual procedure we used to clean the data allows us to resolve some issues raised in the literature. Our results show that the impact of working relationships on innovation production depends on both geography and dynamics. Therefore, we can not conclude that productivity effects of knowledge flows occurring through the labour market are localized. However, we can conclude that working relationships have sizable productivity effects on innovation, either in the short or in the long run, depending on the geographical distance.

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