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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 study the role and characteristics of gatekeepers within regional innovation systems by applying social network analysis based on patent data for four East-German regions. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Graf, 2008. "Gatekeepers in Regional Networks of Innovators," DRUID Working Papers 08-19, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:08-19
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    Keywords

    Innovator networks; Gatekeeper; R&D co-operation; Mobility;

    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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