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Substitutability and complementarity of technological knowledge and the inventive performance of semiconductor companies


  • Dibiaggio, Ludovic
  • Nasiriyar, Maryam
  • Nesta, Lionel


This paper analyses whether complementarity and substitutability of knowledge elements are key determinants of the firm's inventive performance, in addition to the more conventional measures of knowledge stock and diversity. Using patent data from 1968 to 2002 in the semiconductor industry, we find that the overall level of complementarity between knowledge components positively contributes to firms’ inventive capability, whereas the overall level of substitutability between knowledge components generally has the opposite effect. Yet a relatively high level of substitutability is found to be beneficial for explorative inventions. These results suggest that a firm's inventive capacity significantly depends on its ability to align its inventive strategies and knowledge base structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Dibiaggio, Ludovic & Nasiriyar, Maryam & Nesta, Lionel, 2014. "Substitutability and complementarity of technological knowledge and the inventive performance of semiconductor companies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(9), pages 1582-1593.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:43:y:2014:i:9:p:1582-1593 DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2014.04.001

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    Cited by:

    1. Guan, Jiancheng & Liu, Na, 2016. "Exploitative and exploratory innovations in knowledge network and collaboration network: A patent analysis in the technological field of nano-energy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 97-112.
    2. Martin Kalthaus, 2016. "Knowledge recombination along the technology life cycle," Jena Economic Research Papers 2016-012, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    3. Kibae Kim, 2015. "Evolution of the Global Knowledge Network: Network Analysis of Information and Communication Technologies’ Patents," TEMEP Discussion Papers 2015124, Seoul National University; Technology Management, Economics, and Policy Program (TEMEP), revised Jul 2016.
    4. Frank Neffke, 2017. "Coworker Complementarity," SPRU Working Paper Series 2017-05, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    5. Brennecke, Julia & Rank, Olaf, 2017. "The firm’s knowledge network and the transfer of advice among corporate inventors—A multilevel network study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 768-783.


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