Mobility of highly skilled individuals and local innovation activity

Kyriakos Drivas, Claire Economidou*, Dimitrios Karamanis, Mark Sanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Mobilization of valuable resources, especially of talented individuals, figures prominently in firms’ strategies and policy agendas. Thus far, there is a dearth of empirical evidence in the field. The contribution of this paper is two-pronged: first, to perform an integral evaluation of the different factors that shape the mobility of patent inventors -a specific class of highly skilled individuals, who are deeply involved in the production of innovation and are important vehicle of technological knowledge circulation- and second, to assess the effects of their mobility on local innovation activity. Employing detailed patent data to track their moves, we use a gravity model to examine whether geographic, technological, and cultural proximities between countries, among other factors, shape the flows of these talented individuals. Using the same framework of analysis, we also examine the mobility of non-inventor migrants. Our results show that although geographic distance still plays a role, inventor migrants are less geographically confined than non-inventor migrants. Countries’ technology similarity is the main driver of inventor moves, whereas cultural -linguistic and religion- proximity matters more for non-inventor migrants. Finally, the knowledge and skills that move with the inventors have a positive effect on the production of new knowledge in the host country.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120144
Number of pages26
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume158
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

JEL classifications

  • j61 - "Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers"
  • o31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
  • o33 - "Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes"
  • o52 - Economywide Country Studies: Europe

Keywords

  • Inventor mobility
  • Patents
  • Migration
  • Gravity
  • Proximity
  • RESEARCH-AND-DEVELOPMENT
  • KNOWLEDGE SPILLOVERS
  • INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION
  • TECHNOLOGY DIFFUSION
  • ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT
  • PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH
  • PATENT CITATIONS
  • FIRM LEVEL
  • LONG-RUN
  • TRADE

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