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The Evolution Of Inventor Networks In The Silicon Valley And Boston Regions

  • LEE FLEMING

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

  • KOEN FRENKEN

    ()

    (Urban and Regional Research Institute Utrecht (URU), Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

While networks are widely thought to enhance regional innovative capability, there exist few longitudinal studies of their formation and evolution over time. Based on an analysis of all patenting inventors in the U.S. from 1975 to 2002, we observe dramatic aggregation of the regional inventor network in Silicon Valley around 1989. Based on network statistics, we argue that the sudden rise of giant networks in Silicon Valley can be understood as a phase transition during which small isolated networks form one giant component. By contrast, such a transition in Boston occurred much later and much less dramatically. We do not find convincing evidence that this marked difference between the two regions is due to regional differences in the propensity to collaborate or the involvement of universities in patenting. Interviews with key network players suggest that contingent labor mobility between established firms in Silicon Valley, in particular resulting from IBM's policy as a central player in patenting activity, promoted inter-organizational networking, leading to larger inventor networks.

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Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal Advances in Complex Systems.

Volume (Year): 10 (2007)
Issue (Month): 01 ()
Pages: 53-71

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Handle: RePEc:wsi:acsxxx:v:10:y:2007:i:01:p:53-71
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  1. Barabási, A.L & Jeong, H & Néda, Z & Ravasz, E & Schubert, A & Vicsek, T, 2002. "Evolution of the social network of scientific collaborations," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 311(3), pages 590-614.
  2. Jasjit Singh, 2005. "Collaborative Networks as Determinants of Knowledge Diffusion Patterns," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(5), pages 756-770, May.
  3. Cowan Robin & Jonard Nicolas, 1999. "Network Structure and the Diffusion of Knowledge," Research Memorandum 026, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  4. Kenney, Martin & von Burg, Urs, 1999. "Technology, Entrepreneurship and Path Dependence: Industrial Clustering in Silicon Valley and Route 128," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 67-103, March.
  5. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2003. "Mobility and Social Networks: Localised Knowledge Spillovers Revisited," KITeS Working Papers 142, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2003.
  6. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1990. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 165-174, April.
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