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Mobility of inventors and the geography of knowledge spillovers. New evidence on US data

  • Stefano Breschi

    (CESPRI-Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)

  • Francesco Lissoni

    (Brescia University and CESPRI-Bocconi University, Italy)

In this paper we exploit new data on US inventors in Organic Chemistry, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotechnology to revisit the JTH test of the localization of knowledge spillovers (Jaffe, Trajtenberg, and Henderson; 1993). We find that inventors who patent across different companies contribute extensively to the observed citation patterns, both directly (through personal self-citations) and indirectly, by linking the various companies via a social network conducive to more citations. To the extent that the geographical mobility of these “cross-firm” inventors is quite limited, the resulting social networks and citations patterns are found to be bounded in space. We conclude that spatial distance, as measured in the JTH experiment, is just a proxy for a much more important variable, such as social distance between inventors. In a similar vein, we show that technological distance, introduced by Thompson and Fox-Kean (2005) to question the soundness of the JTH experiment, is also a proxy of social distance.

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Paper provided by KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series KITeS Working Papers with number 184.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision: Oct 2006
Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp184
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  1. David C. Mowery & Arvids A. Ziedonis, 2001. "The Geographic Reach of Market and Non-Market Channels of Technology Transfer: Comparing Citations and Licenses of University Patents," NBER Working Papers 8568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco, 2000. "Knowledge Spillovers And Local Innovation Systems: A Critical Survey," ERSA conference papers ersa00p362, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2004. "Knowledge networks from patent data: Methodological issues and research targets," KITeS Working Papers 150, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Jan 2004.
  4. Jarle Møen, 2000. "Is Mobility of Technical Personnel a Source of R&D Spillovers?," NBER Working Papers 7834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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