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The evolution of inventor networks in the Silicon Valley and Boston regions

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  • Lee Fleming

    ()

  • Koen Frenken

    ()

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee Fleming & Koen Frenken, 2006. "The evolution of inventor networks in the Silicon Valley and Boston regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0609, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jul 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:0609
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    File URL: http://econ.geo.uu.nl/peeg/peeg0609.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Cowan, Robin & Jonard, Nicolas, 2004. "Network structure and the diffusion of knowledge," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1557-1575, June.
    3. Nathan ROSENBERG, 2009. "Why do firms do basic research (with their own money)?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Studies On Science And The Innovation Process Selected Works of Nathan Rosenberg, chapter 11, pages 225-234 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Jasjit Singh, 2005. "Collaborative Networks as Determinants of Knowledge Diffusion Patterns," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(5), pages 756-770, May.
    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. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Adams, Stephen B., 2011. "Growing where you are planted: Exogenous firms and the seeding of Silicon Valley," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 368-379, April.
    2. Tödtling, Franz & Trippl, Michaela & Lengauer, Lukas, 2008. "Towards regional knowledge economics. Routes and policy options," SRE-Discussion Papers 266, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:424-434 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:scient:v:94:y:2013:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-012-0812-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Arno Brandt & Claudia Hahn & Stefan Krätke & Matthias Kiese, 2009. "Metropolitan Regions In The Knowledge Economy: Network Analysis As A Strategic Information Tool," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 100(2), pages 236-249, April.

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    Keywords

    evolutionary economic; inventor networks;

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