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The Geography of Inventive Activities in OECD Regions


  • Stefano Usai

    (University of Cagliari)


This work reflects an initial analysis employing a pioneering new OECD database; it is among the first systematic attempts to analyse comparatively the distribution of innovative activity across regions in OECD economies with a set of homogenous measures for both input and output in the process of knowledge production and dissemination. The descriptive analysis shows that there are important differences in the inventive performance of regions in OECD economies, as measured by indicators for one of the key types of intellectual assets (i.e., patents). Inventive performance is concentrated in some regions in continental Europe, in North America and Japan. Highly inventive regions tend to cluster together. This spatial dependence is found to have increased over time. The inventive performance of regions is directly influenced by the availability of human capital and R&D expenditure. Local agglomeration factors (proxied by the density of population) are also found to have a significant impact while some negative effects appear when regions are mainly rural or when they are mainly service-oriented. Cross-country differences point to the importance of national innovation systems which shape the institutional framework within which innovation takes form and diffuses. La Géographie des activités d'invention dans les régions de l'OCDE Ce travail est le fruit d’une première analyse à partir d’une base de données OCDE nouvelle et novatrice. Il correspond à l’une des premières tentatives d’effectuer de manière systématique des analyses comparatives de la distribution de l’activité d’innovation entre les régions, dans les économies de l’OCDE, et comporte une batterie d’indicateurs homogènes du processus de production et de diffusion du savoir (facteurs de production et produits). L’analyse descriptive montre que, dans les économies de l’OCDE, l’inventivité des régions, telle que mesurée par les indicateurs de l’un des principaux types d’actifs intellectuels (les brevets, par exemple), n’est absolument pas homogène. L’inventivité se concentre dans quelques régions du continent européen, d’Amérique du Nord et du Japon. Les régions à forte inventivité ont tendance à se constituer en réseaux. On a d’ailleurs constaté que cette dépendance spatiale a augmenté au fil du temps. La disponibilité de capital humain et les dépenses de R-D influent directement sur l’inventivité des régions. On observe également que des facteurs d’agglomération locaux (dont la variable indicatrice est la densité de la population) ont un impact significatif alors que certains effets négatifs se font sentir quand les régions sont principalement rurales ou principalement orientées vers les services. Les disparités transnationales mettent en exergue l’importance des systèmes nationaux d’innovation qui façonnent le cadre institutionnel au sein duquel l’innovation prend forme et se diffuse.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Usai, 2008. "The Geography of Inventive Activities in OECD Regions," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2008/3, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2008/3-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Pradhan, Jaya Prakash, 2011. "Regional heterogeneity and firms’ innovation: the role of regional factors in industrial R&D in India," MPRA Paper 28096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Rinaldo Evangelista & Valentina Meliciani & Antonio Vezzani, 2016. "The Distribution of Technological Activities in Europe: A Regional Perspective," JRC Working Papers JRC102435, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    3. Christ, Julian P., 2009. "The geography and co-location of European technology-specific co-inventorship networks," Violette Reihe: Schriftenreihe des Promotionsschwerpunkts "Globalisierung und Beschäftigung" 31/2010, University of Hohenheim, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Evangelisches Studienwerk.

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