Chapter 10: Proximity and collaborative knowledge creation
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This chapter examines the collaborations between inventors in the United Kingdom (UK) by looking at what types of proximities - geographic, organisational, cognitive, social, and cultural-ethnic - between inventors are prevalent in partnerships that ultimately lead to technological progress. The chapter systematically explores the link between all these proximities and co-patenting by multi-patent inventors. We take this to the data via a new panel of EPO patents that is used to identify the incidence of the different proximities considered in co-patenting teams, after controlling for a broad set of observable and time-invariant unobservable characteristics. The results show that organisational proximity is an essential characteristic of co-patenting teams together with social proximity formed by means of previous collaborations. Multiple patent inventors tend to patent much more with other inventors in close organisational proximity and within established social network with space mediating the effect of all types of proximities considered. This implies that ideas flow inside very well-structured organisational and social pipelines. Nevertheless, the functioning of these communication channels improves in close geographical proximity. Cluster policies should take into account that if other proximity conditions are not simultaneously in place, spatial clustering may be of limited utility to innovation.

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