Category: Economic Geography

Mobility of Researchers

Under the headline of Two Sides of Brain-Circulation the role of researcher intersectoral and international mobility is discussed today in a conference organized by the EC and by the Austrian BMWFW.

The literature has shown that labor mobility is a determinant of firm performance (Boschma, Eriksson, & Lindgren, 2009; Balsvik 2012) and of innovation in particular (Herstad, Sandven, & Ebersberger, 2015). Additionally the a recent study commissioned by the EC has highlighted that there is considerable room for increasing researchers’ mobility:

  • 14 % – 18 % of EU HEI researchers of have been internationally mobile during their PhD
  • 30 % of EU HEI researchers were mobile (> 3 months) in the last 10 years after PhD
  • 31 % of EU HEI researchers have NEVER been internationally mobile post PhD
  • 23 % of EU researchers currently outside of EU consider returning to EU
  • 72 % of non-EU researchers formerly in EU would have liked to stay
  • 77 % of EU HEI researchers collaborate internationally
    • more with academic partners than with industry
    • collaboration happens more frequently in later career stages
    • previous mobility and collaboration correlate
  • Virtual collaboration technology is important for international collaboration / partially substitutes travel
  • 30 % of EU HEI researchers have been inter-sectorally mobile
    • 12 % industry
    • 7 % private / non-profit
    • 15 % government

The literature also highlights that mobility might not be so bad for the countries or the firms the mobility originates from. Considerable spillovers back to the origin are to be expected (Agrawal, Cockburn, & McHale, 2006; Oettl & Agrawal, 2008). The transmission mechanism is the social ties developed on a workplace that last longer than the contractual arrangements.

Gone but not forgotten. 



Agrawal, A., Cockburn, I. & McHale, J. (2006). Gone but not forgotten: knowledge flows, labor mobility, and enduring social relationships. Journal of Economic Geography, 6 (5), 571–591. doi:10.1093/jeg/lbl016.

Balsvik, R. (2011). Is labor mobility a chanell for spillovers from multinationals? Evidence from norwegian manufacturing. Review of Economics and Statistics, 93 (1), 285–297.

Boschma, R., Eriksson, R. & Lindgren, U. (2009. How does labour mobility affect the performance of plants? The importance of relatedness and geographical proximity. Journal of Economic Geography, 9 (2), 169–190. doi:10.1093/jeg/lbn041.

Boschma, R.A. (2005). Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment. Regional Studies, 39 (1), 61–74. doi:10.1080/0034340052000320887.

Herstad, S.J., Sandven, T. & Ebersberger, B. (2015). Recruitment, knowledge integration and modes of innovation. Research Policy, forthc. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2014.06.007.

Oettl, A. & Agrawal, A. (2008). International labor mobility and knowledge flow externalities. Journal of International Business Studies, 39 (8), 1242–1260. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400358.

Recruitment, Knowledge Integration and Modes of Innovation


About a week or so ago we received the favorable editorial decision about our (Sverre, Tore and I) paper “Recruitment, knowledge integration and modes of innovation” has been accepted for publication in Research Policy.

In the paper we investigate how the intrinsic characteristics of firms’ knowledge bases and processing routines have evolved with the past inflow of employees into the firm. The empirical analysis is based on linked public register and innovation survey data for Norway merged with the Norwegian innovation survey. We find that recruitment from universities, research institutes and higher education institutions increases the capacity of the firm to generate technical inventions. Yet, the organizational knowledge bases and processing routines on which commercial innovation output depends, are strengthend only by the recruitment that has occurred from related industries. In the conclusion we draw implications for research, management and policy.

Urban agglomerations, knowledge intensive services and innovation: Establishing the core connections

It took us a while to go from an idea to an accepted paper. But now Sverre Herstad and I have received the news that our paper “Urban agglomerations, knowledge intensive services and innovation: Establishing the core connections” is accepted for publication in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development.

In this paper we investigate how resources available in urban agglomerations influence the (1) organizational form, (2) innovation activity and (3) collaborative linkages of knowledge intensive business services firms (KIBS). We use rather comprehensive Norwegian data: We use the Norwegian employer-employee (LEED) registers for the years 2000 -2008 to connect the organizational forms and labour market positions of individual KIBS to their physical locations. For the decision to engage and for subsequent collaborative ties we utilize unique establishment-level information available from the Norwegian Community Innovation Survey of 2008.

We find that compared to their counterparts elsewhere, KIBS located in Norwegian large-city labour market regions are more likely to be independent from multi-establishment business organizations and thus reliant on resources available externally, in their locations. This is most pronounced in the central and western business districts of the capital, wherein independent KIBS exhibit high turnover of professionals and are less inclined to engage actively in innovation. Yet, those that do engage use the capital region economy as a platform for engaging with both domestic and international collaboration partners. Only by consecutively analysing these aspects and accounting for the selection processes involved is the empirical analysis able to uncover contrasting firm-level responses to the same urban economy resource base.

Regional Knowledge Bases & Extra-Regional Collaboration

Recently we, that is Christina Koller, Sverre J. Herstad and I, received the news that our joint paper “Does the composition of regional knowledge bases influence extra-regional collaboration for innovation?” is published by Applied Economics Letters today.

The paper emphasizes that ther is a growing research interest in the relationship between the composition of regional knowledge bases, and the extra-regional collaborative ties  by actors during their development work. In order to investigate this relationship, we use patent data to characterize European NUTS 3 regions by their i) comparative Technological Specializations; and ii) Related Technological Variety. We find domestic, extra-regional collaboration to be negatively associated with regional Technological Specialization and Related Technological Variety. At the same time, we find Related Technological Variety to serve in support of international innovation collaboration.

Having the data ready it was technically a bit demanding to have a balanced panel and a fractional response variable. First that reminded us very much of the situation in Papke and Wooldridge (1996), where they introduce a regression model for fractional response in cross section data. This suggested regression model resembles the traditional logit or probit for binary responses. Papke and Wooldridge recently extended the model for balanced panels (Papke and Wooldridge, 2008; Wooldridge, 2011) and suggest estimating population-averaged panel-data models by using a Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE; Liang and Zenger, 1986). Therefore, we estimate a generalized linear model with our fractional dependent variable  and the independent variables. In our particular case we use the logit function as the link function  and the binomial distribution as the distribution. Additionally, the GEE estimation requires the specification of a working correlation matrix , which postulates that the correlations are not a function of the independent variables. We employ a so-called ‘exchangeable’ correlation matrix that is particularly suitable here, as our panel contains a rather small time dimension (Papke and Wooldridge, 2008). To control for fixed technology and country effects, we follow Papke and Wooldridge (2008).


Liang, K.-Y. and Zeger, S. L. (1986) Longitudinal data analysis using generalized linear models, Biometrika, 7, 13–22.

Papke, L. E. and Wooldridge, J. M. (1996) Econometric methods for fractional response variables with an application to 401 (K) plan participation rates, Journal of Applied Econometrics, 11, 619–32.

Papke, L. E. and Wooldridge, J. M. (2008) Panel data methods for fractional response variables with an application to test pass rates, Journal of Econometrics, 145, 121–33.

On the Link Between Urban Location and the Involvement of Knowledge Intensive Business Service Firms in Collaboration Networks

Today we realized that our  (i.e. Sverre J. Herstad‘s and my) paper “On the link between urban location and the involvement of knowledge intensive business services firms in collaboration networks” is published  by Regional Studies. Find the paper here.

The empirical analysis of the paper utilizes unique Norwegian establishment-level innovation data to investigate whether location in urban labour market regions influences the geographical scope of collaborative linkages maintained within and outside the realm of clients. Hence, the paper investigates whether the resources available to KIBS in urban locations influence the scope and breadth of their collaborative involvement. In doing so, it also analyzes the role played by services in linking localized collaboration networks to global knowledge flows, and in contributing to knowledge diffusion across institutional and sectoral divides. The provision of advanced business services is fundamentally a process of knowledge coproduction with clients. Consequently, the geographical scope of client collaboration is closely linked to the geographical scope of market presence, and to the overall emphasis put on innovation by the individual firm. Resources available to KIBS in urban regions may make it easier for them to identify and pursue extra-regional market opportunities, as suggested in the theoretical discussion, but these effects are overshadowed by the stronger external market dependence of KIBS outside these regions.

Partnerships that extend beyond the realm of clients are also closely associated with firm-specific investments in innovation. However, compared to demand side relationships, they are much more selective and subjected to stronger partner search, opportunity cost and human resource constraints. These constraints are mediated by competences and contact points to informal networks provided by individual experts, or those accessed through pre-existing collaborative ties. The result is significantly stronger non-client involvement amongst KIBS in those capital region locations which offer the greatest direct access to human resources and the most diverse local partner base.

[The image shows a suburb in the Oslo capital region – (C) BE]


MNCs between the local and the global: Knowledge bases, proximity and distributed knowledge networks

The volume “Innovation And Institutional Embeddedness Of Multinational Companies” edited by Martin Heidenreich has recently been published by Edward Elgar. It contains a paper by Björn Asheim, Sverre Herstad and myself titled “MNCs between the local and the global: Knowledge bases, proximity and distributed knowledge networks” where we investigate how proximity affects the geographical composition of an MNE’s network. We are able to show that the type of knowledge base (analytic vs. synthetic) matters for the effect. In short: for companies operating on a synthetic knowledge base, proximity clearly affects the composition of the MNEs innovation network. For companies operating on an analytic knowledge base it does not.

Industrial innovation collaboration in a capital region context

The paper “Industrial innovation collaboration in a capital region context” by Sverre J. Herstad, Øyvind Pålshaugen and myself is accepted for publication with the Journal of the Knowledge Economy. In this paper we investigate the relationship between capital region location, and the firm level decision to engage in collaboration for innovation.  We find that firm location in the capital region is associated with a slightly lower propensity to engage in innovation collaboration within the region, and a distinctively lower propensity to engage in domestic collaboration as a whole. By contrast, we find no substantial differences between firms in the capital and other Norwegian regions with respect to foreign innovation collaboration, or with respect to innovation activity in general. This means that firms in the capital exchange knowledge among each other by other means than collaboration. They draw comparatively less of their innovation input from the collaboration networks which define the national innovation system as a whole.

Go abroad or have strangers visit?

Go abroad or have strangers visit? On organizational search spaces and local linkages.” Is a paper, on which Sverre J. Herstad and me have been working for quite a while. It was accepted for publication with the Journal of Economic Geography. It is now available online.

The paper explores the role of multinational enterprise groups in linking geographically bounded innovation collaboration networks to external sources of information. To investigate if the information content of the corporate network of affiliates increases with internationalization, we distinguish first between uninational and multinational networks. We then compare affiliation with MNE networks headquartered within the focal economy to affiliation with networks which are controlled from outside. Using Norwegian firm level innovation survey data, we find that the former is associated with the highest likelihood that affiliates combine local collaborative knowledge development outside the corporate network, and innovation search within it.

Entrepreneurschip and regional development

Recently Sverre Herstad (NIFU STEP, Oslo) and myself finalized a short paper about titled “Entrepreneurship and Regional Development”. The paper will be the basis for a keynote at the Business School Ostrava (CZ) later this week. This paper discusses entrepreneurship and regional development from three different viewpoints: regional innovation systems, related variety and open innovation. It distils two major insights for regional development. Heterogeneity and entrepreneurship are to be fostered to support innovation led regional growth. Finally the discussion arrives at one conclusion: regional development strongly hinges on the understanding of regional innovation systems, the heterogeneity of their actors and their entrepreneurial activities. Finally it depends on how these actors interact in generating and exploiting knowledge.

MNCs Between the Local and the Global: Knowledge Bases, Proximity and Distributed Knowledge Networks

The new working paper MNCs Between the Local and the Global: Knowledge Bases, Proximity and Distributed Knowledge Networks by Björn Asheim, Bernd Ebersberger and Sverre Herstad is available as a draft.

The strategies and decisions of MNCs of how to organize their innovation work, and where to locate their R&D facilities are contingent upon a number of different structural properties connected to the companies, their products and productions, institutional frameworks and local embeddedness. One important characteristic of companies is the dominant knowledge base(s) of their activity, which determine the need for proximity to collaboration partners and presence in specific territorial environments. Another important characteristic is the institutional and relational proximity between subsidiaries and MNC HQs. This paper discusses these structural properties against the background of existing research, and proceeds to conduct a two-step empirical analysis using Norwegian community Innovation survey data. First, it investigates the relationship between knowledge bases, forms of MNC affiliation and the geographical scope of the external collaborative network maintained internationally by Norwegian enterprises. This reveals that the analytical knowledge base and MNC affiliation both increase this scope. Second, it investigates the extent to which parent MNC subsidiary presence in a specific world region impact on the diversity of collaborative relationships maintained in the same region. For synthetic knowledge based enterprises, the presence of a daughter subsidiary in a given world region has a strong, positive impact on external collaboration in the same region. These findings are consistent with the notion that the synthetic knowledge base is subjected to stronger forces of co-localization and embeddedness than the analytical knowledge base.