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Gatekeepers in regional networks of innovators

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  • Holger Graf

Abstract

Strong interaction of innovative actors within a local network is commonly said to increase the region-specific knowledge-stock, leading to a comparative advantage. However, it might also lead to a lock-in situation if local trajectories are directed towards inferior solutions. Accordingly, it is argued that successful clusters are characterised by the existence of gatekeepers, i.e. actors that generate novelty by drawing on local and external knowledge. We apply social network analysis based on patent data to analyse structural differences between the innovation systems of four East German regions and study the characteristics of gatekeepers therein. The regional networks appear to be significantly different with respect to the degree of interaction and with respect to their outward orientation. Concerning the characteristics of gatekeepers, we find that absorptive capacity is more important than size. Public research organisations serve the functions of a gatekeeper to a higher degree than private actors. Copyright The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

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  • Holger Graf, 2011. "Gatekeepers in regional networks of innovators," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 173-198.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:35:y:2011:i:1:p:173-198
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/beq001
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    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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