Category: Economics of Innovation

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.

Foundations of Economic Change – Behavior, Interaction and Aggregate Outcome

Currently I am attending the 15th conference of the International Joseph Alois Schumpeter Society.

It is a marvelous event with a line up of speakers that is really breath-taking for all of the participants. Brian Arthur, David Audretsch, Giulio Bottazzi, Guido Buenstorf, Wesley Cohen, Herbert Dawid, Giovanni Dosi, Magda Fontana, Dominique Foray, Koen Frenken, DAniella Laureiro-Martinez, Mariana Mazzucato, John S. Metcalfe, Pierre Mohnen, Richard Nelson, Carlota Perez, Mario Pianta, Ulrich Witt, and of course the host Uwe Cantner.

I am presenting Sverre’s and my paper “KIS, Urban Location & Innovation”. Also I co-authored a poster with Christina Koller about the effect the experience of patent attorneys has on the quality of patents.




Recruitment, knowledge integration and modes of innovation

Today I give a presentation at the Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme Seminar at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. I present a joint paper with Sverre Herstad and Tore Sandven titled “Recruitment, knowledge integration and modes of innovation”.

Commodity trade, innovation collaboration and labor mobility are considered the primary channels through which knowledge diffuse between firms, industries and economies. As the commitment of firms to global production and innovation networks grows, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how the more localized knowledge spillovers, which are attributable to mobility flows, influence the innovativeness of firms and the growth of economies. This paper investigates how the intrinsic characteristics of firms’ knowledge bases and processing routines have evolved with the past inflow of employees. The empirical analysis is based on linked public register and innovation survey data for Norway. It finds recruitment from universities, research institutes and higher education institutions to have increased the capacity of the firm to generate technical inventions. Yet, the organizational knowledge bases and processing routines on which commercial innovation output depends have been found to be strengthened only by the recruitment that has occurred from related industries. Implications for research, management and policy are drawn.

The slides of the presentation are here:

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.

University Business Cooperation in Austria

Is there a lot and systematic bridging activities between universities and businesses in Austria? Well, from an innovation systems point of view one would expect that there is. At least from a normative point of view there should be. Knowledge exchange between business and university does not only increase the economies innovation capabilities, it also helps universities to define their role and to fulfill their third mission. But the reality is somewhat more sobering.

The report on “the State of University-Business Cooperation in Austria“, which I had the pleasure to contribute to, has be release recently. In particular the study finds that there is a lack of commitment to university-business cooperation in Austria. The most developed form of university-busines interaction is collaboration and commercialization of R&D. University management and academics perceive the barriers to cooperation between universities and industry differently. Both believe to extract rather low benefits from university-industry cooperation.

The state of affairs in other European countries is well documented here.

Best Paper Award

Recently we received the news that our paper “Open innovation practices and their effect on innovation performance” published by the International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management has received the Best Paper Award 2012 by the journal. To the best of our knowledge this paper is the first to develop a complete indicator framework for examining open innovation practices and their impact on innovativeness and commercial innovation performance. The analysis  yields a number of results which are relevant for innovation management and policy. Visit IJITM’s site here. Implications for innovation policy are discussed more thoroughly here.

One of the most downloaded articles in Applied Economic Letters

We have just received the notice that our paper “The relationship between international innovation collaboration, intramural R&D and SMEs innovation performance: a quantile regression approach” is among the Top 10 of the most downloaded papers in Applied Economics Letters in 2013. Currently it is free for download.

CERGE-EI Workshop in Prague

Currently I am participating in a highly interesting and inspiring workshop in Prague “Innovation, institutions and geography: What can we learn from microdata?” organized by CERG-EI.

The format of the workshop is great. For each presentation the organizer Martin Srholec has set aside a time slot of an hour. This allows for extensive presentations and discussions. Excellent.

Multilevel approaches and the firm-agglomeration ambiguity in economic growth studies
Frank G. van Oort, Martijn J. Burger, Joris Knoben and Otto Raspe
Discussant: Martin Srholec

Does the local milieu matter for innovation? Multilevel evidence from the Czech Republic
Martin Srholec and Pavla Žížalová
Discussant: Martijn Burger

Understanding multilevel interactions in economic development
Micheline Goedhuys and Martin Srholec
Discussant: Mark Knell

Academic inventors in Italy: Patterns of collaboration with industry
Riccardo Crescenzi, Andrea Filippetti and Simona Iammarino
Discussant: Robert van der Have

Mapping the geography of R&D: What can we learn for regional innovation policy in the Czech Republic and beyond?
Martin Srholec and Pavla Žížalová
Discussant: Jan.Stejskal

Innovation of KIBS and firm-location
Bernd Ebersberger and Sverre Herstad
Discussant: Pavla Žížalová

Devil of a time: How technological radicalness matters for the effects of search strategies on innovations’ time to market
Pankaj C. Patel and Robert van der Have
Discussant: Bernd Ebersberger

The risks of innovation: Are innovating firms less likely to die?
Ana Margarida Fernandes and Caroline Paunov
Discussant: Andrea Filippetti

Surviving the times of crisis: Does innovation make a difference?
Oleg Sidorkin and Martin Srholec
Discussant: Caroline Paunov

Novelty of innovation: Who, where and how much in Europe?
Mark Knell and Martin Srholec
Discussant: Micheline Goedhuys

Entrepreneurs as innovators: A multi-country study on entrepreneurs’ innovative behaviour
Martin Lukeš
Discussant: Johannes Stephan



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 Industrial Knowledge Bases, Commercial Opportunities and Global Innovation Network Linkages

Our (Sverre J. Herstad, Heidi Wiig Aslesen and my) paper “On industrial knowledge bases, commercial opportunities and global innovation network linkages” publication by Research Policy  is now online available  .

It is commonly argued that we are witnessing a shift from global production networks, driven by the search for markets and lower cost production sites, to global innovation networks (GINs), driven by the search for knowledge. This paper explores how sources of behavioural differentiation derived from the literature on industrial knowledge bases and technological regimes condition the degree of international involvement and influence the likelihood that a truly global network configuration is established by the firm. We find this to be clearly influenced by the nature of knowledge and the cumulativeness of knowledge development, the active use of measures to protect intellectual property, the inherent need to innovate and the opportunity to generate sales from this activity.