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Similarity of R&D activities, physical proximity, and R&D spillovers


  • Deltas, George
  • Karkalakos, Sotiris


The diffusion of knowledge generates positive externalities if knowledge flows increase the productivity of R&D by the recipients of these flows. We investigate the extent to which these spillovers depend on the similarity of research activities by the originator and recipient of the knowledge, and at what rate the spillovers diminish with physical distance. We find, using regional patent and R&D expenditure data from the European Union, that similarity between R&D activities is not only statistically significant, but salient: regions with completely dissimilar R&D activities exhibit essentially no spillovers at all. An increase in the distance between the originating and recipient region by 500km reduces spillovers by 55–70%.

Suggested Citation

  • Deltas, George & Karkalakos, Sotiris, 2013. "Similarity of R&D activities, physical proximity, and R&D spillovers," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 124-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:43:y:2013:i:1:p:124-131 DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2012.06.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Head, Keith & Ries, John & Swenson, Deborah, 1995. "Agglomeration benefits and location choice: Evidence from Japanese manufacturing investments in the United States," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 223-247, May.
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    5. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Wolfgang Keller, 2004. "International Technology Diffusion," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 752-782, September.
    7. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-970, December.
    8. Nune Hovhannisyan & Wolfgang Keller, 2015. "International business travel: an engine of innovation?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 75-104, March.
    9. Bottazzi, Laura & Peri, Giovanni, 2003. "Innovation and spillovers in regions: Evidence from European patent data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 687-710, August.
    10. Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Determinants of Knowledge Flows and Their Effect on Innovation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 308-322, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gianni Guastella & Frank G. van Oort, 2015. "Regional Heterogeneity and Interregional Research Spillovers in European Innovation: Modelling and Policy Implications," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(11), pages 1772-1787, November.
    2. Mario Maggioni & Teodora Uberti & Mario Nosvelli, 2014. "Does intentional mean hierarchical? Knowledge flows and innovative performance of European regions," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 53(2), pages 453-485, September.
    3. Kyriakos Drivas & Claire Economidou & Sotiris Karkalakos, 2014. "Spatial Aspects of Innovation Activity in the US," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 5(3), pages 464-480, September.
    4. repec:eee:eneeco:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:69-84 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Technological similarities; Knowledge diffusion; Spatial effects;

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location


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