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Not Invented Here? Innovation in Company Towns

In: Cities and Entrepreneurship

  • Ajay Agrawal
  • Iain Cockburn
  • Carlos Rosell

We examine variation in the concentration of inventive activity across 72 of North America's most highly innovative locations. In 12 of these areas, innovation is particularly concentrated in a single, large firm; we refer to such locations as "company towns". We find that inventors employed by large firms in these locations tend to draw disproportionately from their firm's own prior inventions (as measured by citations to their own prior patents) relative to what would be expected given the underlying distribution of innovative activity across all inventing firms in a particular technology field. Furthermore, we find such inventors are more likely to build upon the same prior inventions year after year. However, smaller firms in company towns do not exhibit this myopic behavior; they draw upon prior inventions as broadly as their small-firm counterparts in more diverse locations. In addition, we find that inventions by large firms in company towns have less impact than those produced elsewhere, although the difference is modest, and that the impact is disproportionately appropriated by the inventing firms themselves. Finally, the geographic scope of impact realized by company town inventions is narrower, whether produced by large or small firms.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Edward L. Glaeser & Stuart S. Rosenthal & William C. Strange, 2010. "Cities and Entrepreneurship," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number glae09-1, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11890.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11890
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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