Category: Internationalization

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.

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.

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.

Does Offshoring Hurt Domestic Innovation Activities?

I have (together with Bernhard Dachs, Steffen Kinkel, and Oliver Som) contributed a column to the is a policy portal set up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research ( in conjunction with a consortium of national sites. Vox aims to promote research-based policy analysis and commentary by leading scholars. The intended audience is economists in governments, international organisations, academia and the private sector as well as journalists specializing in economics, finance and business. Assistance for the Centre’s work on Vox has been provided by the European Union, through its programme of support for bodies active at the European level in the field of active European citizenship.

Based on our initial research Bernhard and I have teamed up with Steffen Kinkel and Oliver Som, who are behind the inception of the European Manufacturing Survey, that we have used for this project. We have contributed a short summary of our revised research on the effects of offshoring on innovation in the home country.

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]


Offshoring & Innovation in the Media

Today the Austrian newspaper covers our analysis about the innovation effects of offshoring of production activities in its science section (here). Under the heading “Auslagern ist besser als sein Ruf” (“Offshoring is better than its reputation”) the article covers our research quite extensively.

Offshoring & Innovation in the Media

Also the Austrian business weekly Format features Bernhard Dachs‘ of AIT foresight and policy development and my analysis. The paper that this refers to can be found here.

Offshoring & Innovation in the Media

Today  an article in the NZZ (Neue Züricher Zeitung) features our analysis of offshoring.

Press release

Today’s latest MCI press release features our offshoring study: see here.