Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 1–2, pp 155–174 | Cite as

Evolving networks of inventors

  • R. CowanEmail author
  • N. Jonard
  • J.-B. Zimmermann
Regular Article


In this paper we develop a model of R&D alliance formation. Pairs of firms combine their knowledge in an attempt to innovate. Whether this attempt is successful depends in part on whether the pair has been successful in the past: accumulated experience teaches a pair of firms how to innovate together, but at the same time increases the similarity of their knowledge stocks. A tension exists between the desire for a familiar partner, and desire for a partner with complementary knowledge. How this tension is resolved depends on the nature of the innovation process itself, and the elasticity of substitution of different types of knowledge inputs in knowledge production. From the alliance-innovation process, a variety of networks form. In different parts of the parameter space we observe isolated agents, a dense, connected network, and small worlds.


Innovation R&D collaboration Networks Knowledge Computational experiment 

JEL Classification

L14 Z13 O3 



Jonard and Zimmermann acknowledge support from the French Ministry of Research (ACI Systèmes complexes en Sciences Humaines et Sociales, SCo0061)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MERITUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.CNRSCREA Ecole PolytechniqueParisFrance
  3. 3.CNRSGREQAM, EHESSMarseilleFrance

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