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No inventor is an island: Social connectedness and the geography of knowledge flows in the US

Journal

Research Policy

Subject

Economics

Authors / Editors

Diemer A;Regan T

Biographies

Publication Year

2021

Abstract

Do informal social ties connecting inventors across distant places promote knowledge flows between them? To measure informal ties, we use a new and direct index of social connectedness of regions based on aggregate Facebook friendships. We use a well-established identification strategy that relies on matching inventor citations with citations from examiners. Moreover, we isolate the specific effect of informal connections, above and beyond formal professional ties (co-inventor networks) and geographic proximity. We identify a significant and robust effect of informal ties on patent citations. Further, we find that the effect of geographic proximity on knowledge flows is entirely explained by informal social ties and professional networks. We also show that the effect of informal social ties on knowledge flows is greater for new entrepreneurs or ‘garage inventors’, for older or ‘forgotten’ patents, and for flows across distant technology fields. It has also become increasingly important over the last two decades.

Available on ECCH

No


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