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The Changing Geography of Innovation and the Role of Multinational Enterprises

This paper provides descriptive evidence of the changing geography of inventive activity and the role of MNEs international R&D activities, with quite an extensive geographical coverage. Results highlight that ‘local buzz’ is crucial for the development of knowledge in local economies, and it leads to persistence in innovative activities. However, ‘global pipelines’ are also becoming a crucial element for the successful development of local knowledge. In particular, we first find that the number of regions involved in patenting has increased threefold since the 1980s. Second, despite this increase in the number of regions patenting, 70% of inventions come from the top 100 regions. Third, although the hierarchy of the top patenting regions is not immobile, the propensity to patent is quite dependent on previous innovation. Fourth, international collaboration in patenting has been steadily on the rise over the last three decades. Fifth, international R&D investments of MNEs are indeed also very concentrated in a few locations, which can also be quite distant from the MNEs headquarters’ location.

geography of innovation, MNEs, regions, local buzz, global pipelines

JEL Classifications
F23; R11, O33

Published on 22nd November 2017
Authors Professor Davide Castellani
Series Reference JHD-2017-02