Chapter 7: What do you Mean by ‘Mobile’? Multi-applicant Inventors in the European Biotechnology Industry
7. What do you mean by “mobile”? Multi-applicant inventors in the European biotechnology industry Francesco Laforgia and Francesco Lissoni INTRODUCTION 1. Mobility of knowledge workers, such as R&D staff and other employees contributing to firms’ innovation efforts, is often pinpointed as a major factor contributing to knowledge diffusion. Starting with Arrow’s (1962) classic reference, the issue of mobility has been linked to diffusion via knowledge spillovers, a particular kind of externality that is of direct relevance for a number of phenomena, such as the correct estimation of innovation production functions (Griliches, 2000), the existence of market failures (Geroski, 1995), and the agglomeration of industries and innovative activities (Feldman, 1999). Knowledge spillovers are often referred to as “pure externalities”, as opposed to “pecuniary externalities”, which also contribute to agglomeration, but have much less impact on economic theory and policy.1 In most of the literature, mobility is interpreted as job mobility specified as, “when researchers leave a firm and take a job at another firm” (Jaffe and Trajtenberg, 1996). This kind of mobility generates a pure externality to the extent that the mobile researchers bring with themselves information, contacts and ideas that they generated or acquired while working in their previous firm. However, this is not the only mobility mechanism that can generate knowledge diffusion. Mobility also can occur when employees of one company end up working for another firm as a consequence of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), in which case the absorbing company pays for the intellectual assets acquired...
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