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The Role of Geographic and Organizational Boundaries in Nanotechnology Collaboration


  • Mariko Sakakibara


This paper examines how the collaboration of inventors within an organization and in different organizations contributes to the success of innovation in nanotechnology. We expect that the greater extent of collaborations among inventors would yield better research outcomes because of the importance of collaboration in combining existing knowledge to create new ideas, and in evaluating and selecting from these ideas. Due to the tacit nature of technological knowledge, greater geographic distance of collaborating inventors can negatively affect inventive performance, while distant collaboration can bring opportunity to tap into unique local knowledge. The collaboration of inventors in different countries can further add difficulties. On the other hand, we expect the collaboration between universities and companies would yield better performance due to the importance of scientific knowledge in nanotechnology research. We utilize patent data for our empirical analysis, and corroborate with interviews with researchers at nanotech companies. Our results show that, after controlling for inventor quality, a greater number of inventors in collaboration is associated with more successful innovation. International cooperation appears to be an obstacle for successful innovation. While inventor's quality or prior collaboration experience has some moderating effect on international collaboration, this effect is not statistically significant. Collaboration between companies and universities is positively associated with the success of innovation. Also, the U.S subsample indicates that cooperation over longer distance is negatively associated with successful innovation, but the statistical significance is weak. The number of assignees has mixed effect on successful innovation, indicating the difficulties of collaboration across organizational boundaries.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariko Sakakibara, 2014. "The Role of Geographic and Organizational Boundaries in Nanotechnology Collaboration," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 115-116, pages 177-193.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2014:i:115-116:p:177-193
    DOI: 10.15609/annaeconstat2009.115-116.177

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