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The Dynamics of the Inventor Network in German Biotechnology: Geographical Proximity versus Triadic Closure


  • Anne L.J. Ter Wal



Economic geography has developed a stronghold analysing how geography impacts innovation. Yet, despite increased interest in networks, a critical assessment of the role of geography in the evolution of networks is still lacking. This paper juxtaposes geographical proximity with the network of prior ties as alternative mechanisms for tie formation. Analysing the evolution of inventor networks in German biotechnology, the paper theoretically argues and empirically demonstrates that - as the technological regime of an industry changes over time - inventors increasingly rely on network resources by forming links to partners of partners, whilst the direct impact of geographical proximity on tie formation decreases.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne L.J. Ter Wal, 2011. "The Dynamics of the Inventor Network in German Biotechnology: Geographical Proximity versus Triadic Closure," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1102, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jan 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1102

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anne Ter Wal & Ron Boschma, 2011. "Co-evolution of Firms, Industries and Networks in Space," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(7), pages 919-933.
    2. Lemarie, Stephane & Mangematin, Vincent & Torre, Andre, 2001. "Is the Creation and Development of Biotech SMEs Localised? Conclusions Drawn from the French Case," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1-2), pages 61-76, Aug.-Sept.
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    Cited by:

    1. Broekel, Tom & Fornahl, Dirk & Morrison, Andrea, 2015. "Another cluster premium: Innovation subsidies and R&D collaboration networks," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(8), pages 1431-1444.
    2. Florian Umlauf, 2014. "Network Determinants of a Collaborative Funding System: The Case of the German Innovation Policy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2014-03, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    3. Pierre-Alexandre Balland & Mathijs De Vaan & Ron Boschma, 2013. "The dynamics of interfirm networks along the industry life cycle: The case of the global video game industry, 1987--2007," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(5), pages 741-765, September.
    4. Ernest Miguélez & Rosina Moreno, 2013. "Do Labour Mobility and Technological Collaborations Foster Geographical Knowledge Diffusion? The Case of European Regions," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 321-354, June.
    5. Sidonia von Proff & Thomas Brenner, 2011. "The Dynamics of Inter-Regional Collaboration – An Analysis of Co-Patenting," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2011-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

    More about this item


    network evolution; geographical proximity; triadic closure; inventor networks;

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics
    • 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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