The fluidity of inventor networks

  • Michael FritschEmail author
  • Moritz Zoellner


We investigate the ‘fluidity’, i.e., entry and exit of inventors, as well as changes of their relationships in nine German regions. The levels of entry and exit of inventors are rather high and most links among inventors are only short term. Fluidity of inventors and links leads to some fragmentation of the regional inventor networks but does not significantly affect other network characteristics. Entry of new inventors and growing numbers of links are positively related to the performance of the respective regional innovation system.


Innovation networks R&D cooperation Division of innovative labor Patents 

JEL Classification

O3 R1 D2 D8 



  1. Albert, R., Jeong, H., & Barabási, A.-L. (2000). Error and attack tolerance of complex networks. Nature, 406, 378–382. Scholar
  2. Asheim, B., Smith, H. L., & Oughton, C. (2011). Regional innovation systems: Theory, empirics and policy. Regional Studies, 45, 875–891. Scholar
  3. Balconi, M., Breschi, S., & Lissoni, F. (2004). Networks of inventors and the role of academia: An exploration of Italian patent data. Research Policy, 33, 127–145. Scholar
  4. Balland, P.-A., De Vaan, M., & Boschma, R. (2012). The dynamics of interfirm networks along the industry life cycle: The case of the global video game industry, 1987–2007. Journal of Economic Geography, 13, 741–765. Scholar
  5. Barabási, A.-L., & Albert, R. (1999). Emergence of scaling in random networks. Science, 286, 509–512. Scholar
  6. Belderbos, R., Carree, M., Lokshin, B., & Fernández, J. (2015). Inter-temporal patterns of R&D collaboration and innovative performance. Journal of Technology Transfer, 40, 123–137. Scholar
  7. Borgatti, S. P. (2006). Identifying sets of key players in a social network. Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 12, 21–34. Scholar
  8. Breschi, S., & Lissoni, F. (2001). Knowledge spillovers and local innovation systems: A critical survey. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10, 975–1005. Scholar
  9. Cohen, W. M., & Klepper, S. (1996). Firm size and the nature of innovation within industries: The case of process and product R&D. Review of Economics and Statistics, 78, 232–243. Scholar
  10. Ejermo, O., & Karlsson, C. (2006). Interregional inventor networks as studied by patent coinventorships. Research Policy, 35, 412–430. Scholar
  11. Feldman, M., & Kogler, D. (2010). Stylized facts in the geography of innovation. In B. Hall & N. Rosenberg (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of innovation (Vol. 1, pp. 381–410). Oxford: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fleming, L., King, C., III, & Juda, A. I. (2007). Small world and regional innovation. Organization Science, 18, 938–954. Scholar
  13. Fritsch, M. (2002). Measuring the quality of regional innovation systems—A knowledge production function approach. International Regional Science Review, 25, 86–101. Scholar
  14. Fritsch, M., & Graf, H. (2011). How sub-national conditions affect regional innovation systems: The case of the two Germanys. Papers in Regional Science, 90, 331–354. Scholar
  15. Fritsch, M., & Slavtchev, V. (2011). Determinants of the efficiency of regional innovation systems. Regional Studies, 45, 905–918. Scholar
  16. Fritsch, M., Titze, M., & Piontek, M. (2018). Knowledge interactions in regional innovation networks: Comparing data sources. Jena Economic Research Papers # 2018-003, Friedrich Schiller University Jena.
  17. Gilsing, V., & Nooteboom, B. (2005). Density and strength of ties in innovation networks: An analysis of multi-media and biotechnology. European Management Review, 2, 179–197. Scholar
  18. Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1360–1380. Scholar
  19. Greve, H., Brown, J. A., Mitsuhashi, H., & Rowley, T. (2009). Built to last but falling apart: Cohesion, friction, and withdrawal from interfirm alliances. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 302–322. Scholar
  20. Jackson, M. O. (2008). Social and economic networks. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Jones, F. Benjamin, Wuchty, S., & Uzzi, B. (2008). Multi-university research teams: Shifting impact, geography, and stratification in science. Science, 322, 1259–1262. Scholar
  22. Khokhlova, T. N., & Kipnis, M. M. (2013). The breaking of a delayed ring neural network contributes to stability: The rule and exceptions. Neural Networks, 48, 148–152. Scholar
  23. Lundvall, B.-Å. (2007). National innovation systems—Analytical concept and development tool. Industry and Innovation, 14, 95–119. Scholar
  24. Madhavan, R., Koka, B. R., & Prescott, J. E. (1998). Networks in transition: How industry events (re)shape interfirm relationships. Strategic Management Journal, 19, 439–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Noni, D., Ivan, L. O., & Belussi, F. (2018). The role of collaborative networks in supporting the innovation performances of lagging-behind European regions. Research Policy, 47, 1–13. Scholar
  26. Nooteboom, B. (2002). Trust: Forms, foundations, functions, failures and figures. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Scholar
  27. OECD. (2009). Regions matter—Economic recovery, innovation and sustainable growth. Paris: OECD Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. OECD. (2010). Regions and innovation policy. OECD reviews of regional innovation. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  29. Owen-Smith, J., & Powell, W. (2004). Knowledge networks as channels and conduits: The effects of spillovers in the Boston biotechnology community. Organization Science, 15, 5–21. Scholar
  30. Park, S. H., & Russo, M. V. (1996). When competition eclipses cooperation: An event history analysis of joint venture failure. Management Science, 42(6), 875–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Phelps, C. C. (2010). A longitudinal study of the influence of alliance network structure and composition on firm exploratory innovation. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 890–913. Scholar
  32. Powell, W. W., & Gianella, E. (2010). Collective invention and inventor networks. In B. H. Hall & N. Rosenberg (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of innovation (Vol. 1, pp. 575–605). Amsterdam: North Holland. Scholar
  33. Powell, W. W., White, D. R., Koput, K. W., & Owen-Smith, J. (2005). Network dynamics and field evolution: The growth of interorganizational collaboration in the life sciences. American Journal of Sociology, 110, 1132–1205. Scholar
  34. Proff, V., Sidonia, G. B., & Hummel, M. (2012). University patenting in Germany before and after 2002: What role did the professors’ privilege play? Industry and Innovation, 19, 23–44. Scholar
  35. Raffo, J., & Lhuillery, S. (2009). How to play the “Names Game”: Patent retrieval comparing different heuristics. Research Policy, 38, 1617–1627. Scholar
  36. Ramlogan, R., & Consoli, D. (2014). Dynamics of collaborative research medicine: The case of glaucoma. Journal of Technology Transfer, 39, 544–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosenkopf, L., & Padula, G. (2008). Investigating the microstructure of network evolution: Alliance formation in the mobile communications industry. Organization Science, 19, 669–687. Scholar
  38. Schilling, M. A., & Phelps, C. C. (2007). Interfirm collaboration networks—The impact of large-scale network structure on firm innovation. Management Science, 53, 1113–1126. Scholar
  39. Soda, G., Usai, A., & Zaheer, A. (2004). Network memory: The influence of past and current networks on performance. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 893–906.Google Scholar
  40. Statistisches Bundesamt (various volumes): Fachserie 11Bildung und Kultur. Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt.Google Scholar
  41. Storper, M., & Venables, A. J. (2004). Buzz: Face-to-face contact and the urban economy. Journal of Economic Geography, 4, 351–370. Scholar
  42. Suitor, J., Wellman, B., & Morgan, D. L. (1997). It’s about time: How, why, and when networks change. Social Networks, 19, 1–7. Scholar
  43. Sun, Y. (2016). The structure and dynamics of intra- and inter-regional research collaborative networks: The case of China (1985–2008). Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 108, 70–82. Scholar
  44. Sun, Y., & Cao, C. (2015). Intra- and inter-regional research collaboration across organizational boundaries: Evolving patterns in China. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 96, 215–231. Scholar
  45. Sun, Y., & Liu, K. (2016). Proximity effect, preferential attachment and path dependence in inter-regional network: A case of China’s technology transaction. Scientometrics, 108, 201–220. Scholar
  46. Thune, T., & Gulbrandsen, M. (2014). Dynamics of collaboration in university–industry partnerships: Do initial conditions explain development patterns? Journal of Technology Transfer, 39, 977–993. Scholar
  47. Tomkins, C. (2001). Interdependencies, trust and information in relationships, alliances and networks. Accounting, Organization and Society, 26, 161–191. Scholar
  48. Wilhelmsson, M. (2009). The spatial distribution of inventor networks. Annals of Regional Science, 43, 645–668. Scholar
  49. Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316, 1036–1039. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and Business AdministrationFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations