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Related Variety, Unrelated Variety and Technological Breakthroughs: An Analysis of U.S. State-Level Patenting

  • Bart Los

    ()

  • Carolina Castaldi
  • Koen Frenken

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 European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa13p524.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p524
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  1. Quatraro Francesco, 2011. "Knowledge Structure and Regional Economic Growth: The French case," 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 201112, University of Turin.
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  8. Ejermo, Olof, 2004. "Technological Diversity and Jacobs' Externality Hypothesis Revisited," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 16, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  9. Ron A. Boschma & Koen Frenken, 2005. "Why is economic geography not an evolutionary science? Towards an evolutionary economic geography," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0501, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Feb 2005.
  10. 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.
  11. Frank Neffke & Martin Henning & Ron Boschma, 2011. "How Do Regions Diversify over Time? Industry Relatedness and the Development of New Growth Paths in Regions," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 87(3), pages 237-265, 07.
  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.
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  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. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2007. "The puzzle of patent value indicators," Working Papers CEB 07-023.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  16. 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.
  17. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Matté Hartog & Ron Boschma & Markku Sotarauta, 2012. "The impact of related variety on regional employment growth in Finland 1993-2006: high-tech versus medium/low-tech," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1205, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised May 2012.
  22. Ron Boschma, 2005. "Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 61-74.
  23. Arthur, W. Brian, 2007. "The structure of invention," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 274-287, March.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Koen Frenken & Ron A. Boschma, 2007. "A theoretical framework for evolutionary economic geography: industrial dynamics and urban growth as a branching process," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(5), pages 635-649, September.
  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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