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Technological relatedness and regional branching


  • Ron Boschma


  • Koen Frenken



The relatedness between the technologies used among firms in a region is thought to affect the nature and scope of knowledge spillovers. In this paper, we set out how the concepts of technological relatedness and related variety have enriched recent literature in economic geography. First, applying the notion of related variety has led to new insights in the externalities literature. There is increasing evidence that regions with different but technologically related activities (related variety) benefit more from spillovers. Second, the technological relatedness concept has provided additional insights to the question whether extra-regional linkages matter for regional growth: it is not inflows of extra-regional knowledge per se, but inflows of knowledge that are related to the existing knowledge base of regions that might be crucial. Third, the concept of relatedness has found its way in network analysis. There is evidence that collaborative research projects tend to create more new knowledge when they consist of agents that bring in related competences. Linking network dynamics to the industry life-cycle approach, one expects that cognitive proximity levels between cluster firms will increase over time, with detrimental effects on their performance levels. Fourth, the cluster literature often regards labor mobility as a key mechanism through which knowledge diffuses, but no attention has been paid to relatedness until recently. And fifth, studies demonstrate that countries and regions tend to expand into sectors that are closely related to their existing activities. To the extent that new industries emerge from related industries, the sectoral composition of a regional economy affects the diversification opportunities of regions in the long run. This process of sectoral branching occurs primarily at the regional level, because it becomes manifest through a number of knowledge transfer mechanisms (i.e. spinoff activity, firm diversification, labor mobility and networking) that tend to be geographically bounded.

Suggested Citation

  • Ron Boschma & Koen Frenken, 2009. "Technological relatedness and regional branching," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0907, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jun 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:0907

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:spr:anresc:v:58:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00168-016-0805-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ron Boschma & Asier Minondo & Mikel Navarro, 2013. "The Emergence of New Industries at the Regional Level in S pain: A Proximity Approach Based on Product Relatedness," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 89(1), pages 29-51, January.
    3. Grunsven Leo van & Witte Inge, 2012. "Emergence through branching and evolution," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, De Gruyter, vol. 56(1-2), pages 168-184, October.
    4. Ayda Eraydin, 2014. "The importance of endogenous capacities and government support in the resilience of regions," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1308, European Regional Science Association.
    5. Giulio Cainelli & Donato Iacobucci, 2012. "Agglomeration, Related Variety, and Vertical Integration," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 88(3), pages 255-277, July.
    6. Fredin, Sabrina, 2012. "The Dynamics and Evolution of Local Industries – The case of Linköping," Papers in Innovation Studies 2012/7, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    7. Porter, Julie, 2011. "Regional Economic Resilience and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Case of New Orleans' Tourism and Fishing Clusters," Spatial and Organizational Dynamics Discussion Papers 2011-12, CIEO-Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, University of Algarve.
    8. Frank Neffke & Martin Henning, 2011. "Inter-industry linkages in local economies," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1075, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Harald Bathelt & Andrew Munro & Ben Spigel, 2011. "Challenges of Transformation: Innovation, Re-bundling and Traditional Manufacturing in Canada's Technology Triangle," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1111, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jun 2011.

    More about this item


    evolutionary economic geography; technological relatedness; regional branching; related variety;

    JEL classification:

    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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