, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 63–74 | Cite as

Factors affecting inter-regional academic scientific collaboration within Europe: the role of economic distance

  • Manuel Acosta
  • Daniel Coronado
  • Esther Ferrándiz
  • M. Dolores León


This paper offers some insights into scientific collaboration (SC) at the regional level by drawing upon two lines of inquiry. The first involves examining the spatial patterns of university SC across the EU-15 (all countries belonging to the European Union between 1995 and 2004). The second consists of extending the current empirical analysis on regional SC collaboration by including the economic distance between regions in the model along with other variables suggested by the extant literature. The methodology relies on co-publications as a proxy for academic collaboration, and in order to test the relevance of economic distance for the intensity of collaboration between regions, we put forward a gravity equation. The descriptive results show that there are significant differences in the production of academic scientific papers between less-favoured regions and core regions. However, the intensity of collaboration is similar in both types of regions. Our econometric findings suggest that differences in scientific resources (as measured by R&D expenditure) between regions are relevant in explaining academic scientific collaborations, while distance in the level of development (as measured by per capita GDP) does not appear to play any significant role. Nevertheless, other variables in the analysis, including geographical distance, specialization and cultural factors, do yield significant estimated coefficients, and this is consistent with the previous literature on regional SC.


Economic distance Academic scientific collaboration Gravity equation Co-authorship 

Mathematics Subject Classification (2000)

62P20 62J02 97K40 

JEL Classification

R11 O33 I23 



The authors would like to thank Martin Feldkircher (Austrian National Bank) for providing the spatial weight contiguity matrix. They are also grateful to Raffaele Paci and Barbara Dettori from the Centro Ricerche Economiche Nord Sud (CRENOS) at the University of Cagliari for their assistance in the construction of the distance matrix and for providing the coordinates of the centre regions, and Robert Tijssen of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University for providing the updated classification. An early version of this paper was presented at the 12th European Network on Industrial Policy (EUNIP) International Conference held in Reus, Spain, from 9–11 June 2010. We thank the conference participants, particularly James Wilson, for their helpful comments and suggestions. The authors are also very grateful to the reviewers for constructive and insightful comments. This work was supported by the Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa (Junta de Andalucía-Spain) [Grants P06-SEJ-02087 and P08-SEJ-3981].


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel Acosta
    • 1
  • Daniel Coronado
    • 1
  • Esther Ferrándiz
    • 1
  • M. Dolores León
    • 1
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y EmpresarialesUniversidad de CádizCadizSpain

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