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Catching Up, Leapfrogging, or Forging Ahead? Exploring the Effects of Integration and History on Spatial Technological Adoptions


  • Emanuele Giovannetti

    (Institute for International Management Practice, LAIBS, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT, England; and DSE, University of Verona, Italy)


This paper introduces a model of localised competition and technological adoption that produces interesting geographical adoption patterns: persistent asymmetry, where nobody adopts; leapfrogging where only followers adopt; forging ahead, where only leaders adopt; and catching up, where everybody adopts a new technology. I study the conditions leading to the emergence of these adoption patters to interpret the rich and growing empirical literature on intradistribution mobility across and within regions. I consider a set of linked markets characterised by asymmetric initial technological conditions. I show that these different spatial adoption patterns may provide an interesting reference for the debate on regional convergence, as adoption is an essential engine of growth. I also assess both the impact of integration policy and of historical asymmetries on these spatial adoption choices and find some counterintuitive results: for example, that integration policies may increase regional asymmetries instead of reducing them, depending on the relevance of the initial technology gap between neighbouring firms. The model does not assume different learning abilities or adoption costs between leaders and followers. Indeed, they can all adopt, for the same cost, a new technology leading to global catching up and convergence. Notwithstanding this possibility, the emerging spatial adoption patterns may still be asymmetric. The main parameters driving the results of the model are the relevance of the innovation; adoption costs; consumers' preferences for quality; the initial, historically inherited, technology quality asymmetries; and transport costs, expressing the degree of within-market competitiveness and differentiation.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuele Giovannetti, 2013. "Catching Up, Leapfrogging, or Forging Ahead? Exploring the Effects of Integration and History on Spatial Technological Adoptions," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 45(4), pages 930-946, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:45:y:2013:i:4:p:930-946

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    Cited by:

    1. Scaglione, Miriam & Giovannetti, Emanuele & Hamoudia, Mohsen, 2015. "The diffusion of mobile social networking: Exploring adoption externalities in four G7 countries," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 1159-1170.
    2. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:297-329 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Yuichi Furukawa, 2015. "Leapfrogging cycles in international competition," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 59(2), pages 401-433, June.
    4. Giovannetti, Emanuele & Piga, Claudio A., 2017. "The contrasting effects of active and passive cooperation on innovation and productivity: Evidence from British local innovation networks," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 102-112.


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