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Related Variety, Unrelated Variety and Technological Breakthroughs: An analysis of U.S. state-level patenting

  • Carolina Castaldi

    ()

  • Koen Frenken

    ()

  • Bart Los

We investigate how variety affects the innovation output of a region. Borrowing arguments from theories of recombinant innovation, we expect that related variety will enhance innovation as related technologies are more easily recombined into a new technology. However, we also expect that unrelated variety enhances technological breakthroughs, since radical innovation often stems from connecting previously unrelated technologies opening up whole new functionalities and applications. Using patent data for US states in the period 1977-1999 and associated citation data, we find evidence for both hypotheses. Our study thus sheds a new and critical light on the related-variety hypothesis in economic geography.

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Paper provided by Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography in its series Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) with number 1302.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision: Mar 2013
Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1302
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  1. Koen Frenken & Frank Van Oort & Thijs Verburg, 2007. "Related Variety, Unrelated Variety and Regional Economic Growth," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(5), pages 685-697.
  2. Andersen Birgitte & Rossi Federica, 2010. "Recombinant Knowledge and Growth: The Case Of Icts," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201001, University of Turin.
  3. Olof Ejermo, 2005. "Technological Diversity and Jacobs' Externality Hypothesis Revisited," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 167-195.
  4. Koen Frenken & Ron A. Boschma, 2007. "A theoretical framework for Evolutionary Economic Geography: Industrial dynamics and urban growth as a branching process," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0701, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Mar 2007.
  5. Silverberg, G. & Verspagen, B., 2004. "The size distribution of innovations revisited: an application of extreme value statistics to citation and value measures of patent significance," Working Papers 04.17, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Francesco Quatraro, 2009. "Knowledge Coherence, Variety and Productivity Growth: Manufacturing Evidence from Italian Regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0902, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Feb 2009.
  8. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2011. "The puzzle of patent value indicators," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(1), pages 33-62.
  9. Ron A. Boschma & Koen Frenken, 2006. "Why is economic geography not an evolutionary science? Towards an evolutionary economic geography," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 273-302, June.
  10. Arthur, W. Brian, 2007. "The structure of invention," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 274-287, March.
  11. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360, May.
  12. Pierre Desrochers & Samuli Leppälä, 2011. "Opening up the 'Jacobs Spillovers' black box: local diversity, creativity and the processes underlying new combinations," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(5), pages 843-863, September.
  13. M. Hartog & R. Boschma & M. Sotarauta, 2012. "The Impact of Related Variety on Regional Employment Growth in Finland 1993--2006: High-Tech versus Medium/Low-Tech," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(6), pages 459-476, August.
  14. Matthias Brachert & Alexander Kubis & Mirko Titze, 2011. "Related Variety, Unrelated Variety and Regional Functions: Identifying Sources of Regional Employment Growth in Germany from 2003 to 2008," IWH Discussion Papers 15, Halle Institute for Economic Research.
  15. R. Antonietti & G. Cainelli, 2009. "The role of spatial agglomeration in a structural model of innovation, productivity and export," Working Papers Prin 007, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  16. Frank Neffke & Martin Henning & Martin Ron Boschma, 2009. "How do regions diversify over time? Industry relatedness and the development of new growth paths in regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0916, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Oct 2009.
  17. Simona Iammarino, 2005. "An evolutionary integrated view of Regional Systems of Innovation: Concepts, measures and historical perspectives," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 497-519, June.
  18. David L. Rigby & Jürgen Essletzbichler, 2006. "Technological variety, technological change and a geography of production techniques," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 45-70, January.
  19. Ron Boschma & Asier Minondo & Mikel Navarro, 2010. "Related variety and regional growth in Spain," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1012, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Oct 2010.
  20. Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
  21. Ron Boschma & Simona Iammarino, 2009. "Related Variety, Trade Linkages, and Regional Growth in Italy," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(3), pages 289-311, 07.
  22. Stuart, Toby & Sorenson, Olav, 2003. "The geography of opportunity: spatial heterogeneity in founding rates and the performance of biotechnology firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 229-253, February.
  23. Dosi, Giovanni, 1982. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 147-162, June.
  24. Paul Almeida & Bruce Kogut, 1999. "Localization of Knowledge and the Mobility of Engineers in Regional Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(7), pages 905-917, July.
  25. Ron Boschma, 2005. "Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 61-74.
  26. van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2008. "Optimal diversity: Increasing returns versus recombinant innovation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 565-580, December.
  27. repec:dgr:tuecis:wpaper:1201 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Francesco Quatraro, 2011. "Knowledge Structure and Regional Economic Growth: The French case," Post-Print halshs-00727630, HAL.
  29. Markus Becker & Thorbjørn Knudsen & Richard Swedberg, 2012. "Schumpeter’s Theory of Economic Development: 100 years of development," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 917-933, November.
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