Complexity and Technological Change: Knowledge Interactions and Firm Level Total Factor Productivity
The analysis of social interactions as drivers of economic dynamics represents a growing field of the economics of complexity. Social interactions are a specific form of interdependence whereby the changes in the behavior of other agents affect utility functions for households and production functions for producers. In this paper, we apply the general concept of social interactions to the area of the economics of innovation and we articulate the view that knowledge interactions play a central role in the generation of new technological knowledge so that innovation becomes the emergent property of a system, rather then the product of individual actions. In particular, we articulate and test the hypothesis that different layers of knowledge interactions play a crucial role in determining the rate of technological change that each firm is able to introduce. The paper presents an empirical analysis of firm level total factor productivity (TFP) for a sample of 7020 Italian manufacturing companies observed during the years 1996-2005 that is able identify the distinctive role of regional, inter-industrial and localized intra-industrial knowledge interactions as distinctive and significant determinants, together with internal research and innovation efforts, of changes in firm level TFP
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