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The evolution of inventor networks in the Silicon Valley and Boston regions

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  • Lee Fleming

    ()

  • Koen Frenken

    ()

Abstract

While networks are widely thought to enhance regional innovative capability, there exist few longitudinal studies of their formation and evolution over time. Based on an analysis of all patenting inventors in the U.S. from 1975 to 2002, we observe dramatic aggregation of the regional inventor network in Silicon Valley around 1989. Based on network statistics, we argue that the sudden rise of giant networks in Silicon Valley can be understood as a phase transition during which small isolated networks form one giant component. By contrast, such a transition in Boston occurred much later and much less dramatically. We do not find convincing evidence that this marked difference between the two regions is due to regional differences in the propensity to collaborate or the involvement of universities in patenting. Interviews with key network players suggest that contingent labor mobility between established firms in Silicon Valley, in particular resulting from IBM’s policy as a central player in patenting activity, promoted inter-organizational networking, leading to larger inventor networks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography in its series Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) with number 0609.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision: Jul 2006
Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:0609

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Keywords: evolutionary economic; inventor networks;

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References

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  1. Cowan, Robin & Jonard, Nicolas, 2004. "Network structure and the diffusion of knowledge," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1557-1575, June.
  2. Barabási, A.L & Jeong, H & Néda, Z & Ravasz, E & Schubert, A & Vicsek, T, 2002. "Evolution of the social network of scientific collaborations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 311(3), pages 590-614.
  3. Jasjit Singh, 2005. "Collaborative Networks as Determinants of Knowledge Diffusion Patterns," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(5), pages 756-770, May.
  4. Kenney, Martin & von Burg, Urs, 1999. "Technology, Entrepreneurship and Path Dependence: Industrial Clustering in Silicon Valley and Route 128," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 67-103, March.
  5. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2003. "Mobility and Social Networks: Localised Knowledge Spillovers Revisited," KITeS Working Papers 142, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2003.
  6. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1990. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 165-174, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Cassi, Lorenzo & Plunket, Anne, 2012. "Research collaboration in co-­inventor networks: combining closure,bridging and proximities," MPRA Paper 39481, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Holger Graf, 2012. "Inventor networks in emerging key technologies: information technology vs. semiconductors," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 459-480, July.
  3. Marie Ferru, 2010. "Formation and geography of science-industry collaborations: the case of the University of Poitiers," Post-Print hal-00461262, HAL.
  4. Anne L.J. Ter Wal, 2013. "Cluster Emergence and Network Evolution: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Inventor Network in Sophia-Antipolis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(5), pages 651-668, May.
  5. Adams, Stephen B., 2011. "Growing where you are planted: Exogenous firms and the seeding of Silicon Valley," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 368-379, April.
  6. Østergaard, Christian R., 2009. "Knowledge flows through social networks in a cluster: Comparing university and industry links," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 196-210, September.
  7. Jarno Hoekman & Koen Frenken & Frank Oort, 2009. "The geography of collaborative knowledge production in Europe," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 721-738, September.
  8. Dan Breznitz & Mollie Taylor, 2011. "California Dreaming? Cross-Cluster Embeddedness and the Systematic Non-Emergence of the 'Next Silicon Valley'," DRUID Working Papers 11-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  9. Franz Tödtling & Michaela Trippl & Lukas Lengauer, 2008. "Towards Regional Knowledge Economies: Routes and Policy Options," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2008_05, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  10. Carlo Gianelle, 2011. "Exploring the complex structure of labour mobility networks. Evidence from Veneto microdata," Working Papers 2011_13, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  11. Marie Ferru, 2012. "Partners connection process and geography of innovation: new insights from a comparative inter-organizational partnerships analysis," Working Papers hal-00461258, HAL.

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