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Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation

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  • William R. Kerr

    () (Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurial Management Unit)

Abstract

We investigate the speed at which clusters of invention for a technology migrate spatially following breakthrough inventions. We identify breakthrough inventions as the top one percent of US inventions for a technology during 1975-1984 in terms of subsequent citations. Patenting growth is significantly higher in cities and technologies where breakthrough inventions occur after 1984 relative to peer locations that do not experience breakthrough inventions. This growth differential in turn depends on the mobility of the technology's labor force, which we model through the extent that technologies depend upon immigrant scientists and engineers. Spatial adjustments are faster for technologies that depend heavily on immigrant inventors. The results qualitatively con.rm the mechanism of industry migration proposed in models like [Duranton, G., 2007. Urban evolutions: The fast, the slow, and the still. American Economic Review 97, 197.221].

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  • William R. Kerr, 2009. "Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation," Harvard Business School Working Papers 10-020, Harvard Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-020
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    Keywords

    Agglomeration; Clusters; Entrepreneurship; Invention; Mobility; Reallocation; R&D; Patents; Scientists; Engineers; Immigration.;

    JEL classification:

    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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