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Innovation and diversity: the role of knowledge networks in the inventive capacity of cities

Abstract

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it aims to investigate whether the structure of knowledge networks (within and across urban areas) is important for the inventive capacity of cities. Second, it analyses whether the diversity and variety of the industrial structures of cities influence local knowledge networks and, consequently, foster invention. The research analyses co-patenting activities at firm level in the Italian provinces during the period 2004–2016. Patents’ data have been retrieved from the European Patent Office PATSTAT database. Results show that agglomeration economies of inventors are the most important force in fostering local invention capacity. However, the structure of knowledge networks also impacts on invention productivity. Moreover, either the impact of agglomeration economies of inventors or the structure of knowledge networks on local invention capacity increases when there is greater variety in the local industrial structure.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Following the literature on the topic, these two terms are used as synonyms in the present paper (Saviotti and Frenken 2008).

  2. 2.

    A first exploration on this topic has been carried out by Balconi et al. (2004) with an ad hoc database (EPO-INV) and more recently in Pezzoni et al. (2014).

  3. 3.

    In an undirected network in which all the relationships are bi-directional, transitivity is measured at triad level.

  4. 4.

    For instance, Breschi and Lenzi (2016) constructed the network variables by considering knowledge networks in the period 1995–1999 to analyse patents productivity in 2009.

  5. 5.

    Among the densest networks number 15 is Milan, 1 is Turin, 37 is Bologna and 58 is Florence, etc.

  6. 6.

    All coefficients have VIF collinear statistics of less than 3–3.5. Usually the threshold is considered 10 (Neter et al. 1989).

  7. 7.

    We have also tested spatial models for the other model with variety, related variety and unrelated variety, but spatial LAG and error are not statistically significant.

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Correspondence to Luciana Lazzeretti.

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Capone, F., Lazzeretti, L. & Innocenti, N. Innovation and diversity: the role of knowledge networks in the inventive capacity of cities. Small Bus Econ 56, 773–788 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-019-00268-0

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Keywords

  • Knowledge networks
  • Variety/diversity
  • Inventions
  • Patents
  • Italy

JEL classifications

  • 033
  • R12
  • D85
  • L26