nep-tid New Economics Papers
on Technology and Industrial Dynamics
Issue of 2022‒07‒18
thirteen papers chosen by
Fulvio Castellacci
Universitetet i Oslo

  1. Migrant inventors as agents of technological change By Ernest Miguelez; Andrea Morrison
  2. Technology Differentiation and Firm Performance By Samuel Arts; Bruno Cassiman; Jianan Hou
  3. The North-South divide: sources of divergence, policies for convergence By Lucrezia Fanti; Marcelo C. Pereira; Maria Enrica Virgillito
  4. Artificial Intelligence and Firm-level Productivity By Dirk Czarnitzki; Gastón P Fernández; Christian Rammer
  5. Structural Change Within versus Across Firms: Evidence from the United States By Xiang Ding; Teresa C. Fort; Stephen J. Redding; Peter K. Schott
  6. The Evolution of Competitiveness across Economic, Innovation and Knowledge production activities By Aurelio Patelli; Lorenzo Napolitano; Giulio Cimini; Emanuele Pugliese; Andrea Gabrielli
  7. Determinants and Effects of Foreign Direct Investment in Austria: Spillovers to Novel Innovative Environmental Technologies By Mahdi Ghodsi; Branimir Jovanovic
  8. Are digital-using UK firms more productive? By Diane Coyle; Kieran Lind; David Nguyen; Manuel Tong Koecklin
  9. (Co-)Working in Close Proximity: Knowledge Spillovers and Social Interactions By Maria P. Roche; Alexander Oettl; Christian Catalini
  10. Talent Flow Network, the Life Cycle of Firms, and Their Innovations By Mai, Nhat Chi
  11. R&D Spillovers through RJV Cooperation By Albert Banal-Estañol; Tomaso Duso; Jo Seldeslachts; Florian Szücs
  12. The Labor Market Impacts of Technological Change: From Unbridled Enthusiasm to Qualified Optimism to Vast Uncertainty By David Autor
  13. Economic complexity and inequality at the national and regional level By Flavio L. Pinheiro; Dominik Hartmann

  1. By: Ernest Miguelez (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Andrea Morrison
    Abstract: How do regions enter new and distant technological fields? Who is triggering this process? This work addresses these compelling research questions by investigating the role of migrant inventors in the process of technological diversification. Immigrant inventors can indeed act as carriers of knowledge across borders and influence the direction of technological change. We test these latter propositions by using an original dataset of immigrant inventors in the context of European regions during the period 2003–201. Our findings show that: immigrant inventors generate positive local knowledge spillovers; they help their host regions to develop new technological specialisations; they trigger a process of unrelated diversification. Their contribution comes via two main mechanisms: immigrant inventors use their own personal knowledge (knowledge creation); they import knowledge from their home country to the host region (knowledge transfer). Their impact is maximised when their knowledge is not recombined with the local one (in mixed teams of inventors), but it is reused (in teams made by only migrant inventors). Our work contributes to the existing literature of regional diversification by providing fresh evidence of unrelated diversification for European regions and by identifying important agents of structural change. It also contributes to the literature of migration and innovation by adding fresh evidence on European regions and by unveiling some of the mechanisms of immigrants' knowledge transmission.
    Keywords: Patents,Migration,Technological diversification,Relatedness,Europe
    Date: 2022–05
  2. By: Samuel Arts; Bruno Cassiman; Jianan Hou
    Abstract: Prior work has extensively studied how investing in R&D and building a technology portfolio relate to superior firm performance. However, the value of a firm’s technology portfolio should also be driven by the degree to which it is more unique and technologically differentiated from other firms. To study this research question, we develop a new method to characterize firm technology based on the semantic content of patent portfolios that allows us to map a firm’s competitive position in the technology space relative to all other firms and to measure the differentiation of a firm’s technology portfolio. Using a large panel of U.S. public firms from 1980 to 2015, we find that technology differentiation has a strong positive and long-lasting relation with firm performance. Moreover, differentiated firm technology is particularly valuable in industries with higher R&D intensity and with stronger product market competition. We provide open access to all code and data to measure the technology similarity and the technology differentiation of U.S. public firms.
    Date: 2022–01–21
  3. By: Lucrezia Fanti (Dipartimento di Politica Economica, DISCE, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italia); Marcelo C. Pereira (Institute of Economics, University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil); Maria Enrica Virgillito (Institute of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italia – Dipartimento di Politica Economica, DISCE, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italia)
    Abstract: Building on the labour-augmented K+S framework (Dosi et al., 2010, 2017, 2020), we address the analysis of North-South divide by means of an agent-based model (ABM) endogenously reproducing the divergence between two artificial macro-regions. The latter are characterized by identical initial conditions in terms of productive and innovation structures, but different labour market organizations. We identify the role played by different labour markets functioning on the possible divergence across the two regions, by finding that divergences in labour market reverberate into asymmetric productive performance due to negative reinforcing feedback loop dynamics. We then compare alternative policies by showing that investment schemes aimed at increasing machine renewal and higher substitutionary investment are the most effective in fostering the convergence.
    Keywords: Agent-Based Models; Technology Gap; Labour Market
    JEL: C63 J3 E24 O1
    Date: 2022–05
  4. By: Dirk Czarnitzki; Gastón P Fernández; Christian Rammer
    Abstract: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often regarded as the next general-purpose technology with a rapid, penetrating, and far-reaching use over a broad number of industrial sectors. A main feature of new general-purpose technology is to enable new ways of production that may increase productivity. So far, however, only very few studies investigated likely productivity effects of AI at the firm-level; presumably because of lacking data. We exploit unique survey data on firms’ adoption of AI technology and estimate its productivity effects with a sample of German firms. We employ both a cross-sectional dataset and a panel database. To address the potential endogeneity of AI adoption, we also implement IV estimators. We find positive and significant effects of the use of AI on firm productivity. This finding holds for different measures of AI usage, i.e., an indicator variable of AI adoption, and the intensity with which firms use AI methods in their business processes.
    Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Productivity, CIS data
    Date: 2022–02–17
  5. By: Xiang Ding; Teresa C. Fort; Stephen J. Redding; Peter K. Schott
    Abstract: We document the role of intangible capital in manufacturing firms' substantial contribution to non-manufacturing employment growth from 1977-2019. Exploiting data on firms' "auxiliary" establishments, we develop a novel measure of proprietary in-house knowledge and show that it is associated with increased growth and industry switching. We rationalize this reallocation in a model where firms combine physical and knowledge inputs as complements, and where producing the latter in-house confers a sector-neutral productivity advantage facilitating within-firm structural transformation. Consistent with the model, manufacturing firms with auxiliary employment pivot towards services in response to a plausibly exogenous decline in their physical input prices.
    JEL: D24 F14 L16 O47
    Date: 2022–06
  6. By: Aurelio Patelli; Lorenzo Napolitano; Giulio Cimini; Emanuele Pugliese; Andrea Gabrielli
    Abstract: The evolution of economic and innovation systems at the national scale is shaped by a complex dynamics, the footprint of which is the nested structure of the activities in which different countries are competitive. Nestedness is a persistent feature across multiple kinds (layers) of activities related to the production of knowledge and goods: scientific research, technological innovation, industrial production and trade. We observe that in the layers of innovation and trade the competitiveness of countries correlates unambiguously with their diversification, while the science layer displays some peculiar feature. The evolution of scientific domains leads to an increasingly modular structure, in which the most developed nations become less competitive in the less advanced scientific domains, where they are replaced by the emerging countries. This observation is in line with a capability-based view of the evolution of economic systems, but with a slight twist. Indeed, while the accumulation of specific know-how and skills is a fundamental step towards development, resource constraints force countries to acquire competitiveness in the more complex research fields at the price of losing ground in more basic, albeit less visible (or more crowded), fields. This tendency towards a relatively specialized basket of capabilities leads to a trade-off between the need to diversify in order to evolve and the need to allocate resources efficiently. Collaborative patterns among developed nations reduce the necessity to be competitive in the less sophisticated fields, freeing resources for the more complex domains.
    Date: 2022–06
  7. By: Mahdi Ghodsi; Branimir Jovanovic
    Abstract: This study investigates the determinants of FDI in Austria, as well as their spillovers to innovating technologies, productivity, and employment, using firm-level data, for the period 2008-2018. The findings point out that a decrease in the costs of trade increases investment in foreign-owned subsidiaries in Austria, and that FDI is pre-dominantly carried out in industries characterised by greater capital-intensity, higher wages, more agglomeration and regional concentration. Furthermore, FDI is higher in regions with a larger GDP and with a larger share of the population with upper secondary and post-secondary nontertiary education. The study also finds that there are positive spillovers of FDI to the domestic economy, which are strongest and most positive for innovative activities in environmental technologies. In other words, FDI helps Austrian firms to become more innovative in major environmental technologies. Such innovative efforts are best supported at the firm-level by supporting the total assets and investment of domestic firms, and at the regional level by increasing the share of the population with higher levels of education and employing more R&D personnel. The active presence of innovative foreign MNEs that enjoy extensive technological capacities, high-skilled labour, experienced management, and large-scale resources are also conducive to innovative activities.
    Keywords: FDI, Austria, spillovers, innovation, environmental technologies
    JEL: F21 F23 O30 Q55
    Date: 2022–06
  8. By: Diane Coyle; Kieran Lind; David Nguyen; Manuel Tong Koecklin
    Abstract: One possible explanation for the productivity slowdown in advanced economies coinciding with widespread digital adoption is that firms need time to change organisational structures or processes to use the new technologies effectively. Using a unique UK firm-level data set, we explore the links between a large set of digital inputs and investments and productivity. We found that large firms are more digital-intensive than small ones and that digital adopters do have higher productivity than non-adopters, but the nature of the digital variables matters. Those reflecting in-house capabilities are positively related to firm-level total factor productivity (TFP) while those indicating bought-in ones are negatively related. This finding that firms' capabilities matter for the impact of digital adoption on productivity takes advantage of the wide range of digital variables we were able to use, and points to the need for future research on the role of digital technology in driving productivity to take account of organisational capabilities.
    Keywords: digital, organisation, productivity
    JEL: D22 O33 O40
    Date: 2022–03
  9. By: Maria P. Roche; Alexander Oettl; Christian Catalini
    Abstract: We examine the influence of physical proximity on between-startup knowledge spillovers at one of the largest technology co-working hubs in the United States. Relying on the random assignment of office space to the hub's 251 startups, we find that proximity positively influences knowledge spillovers as proxied by the likelihood of adopting an upstream web technology already used by a peer startup. This effect is largest for startups within close proximity of each other and quickly decays: startups more than 20 meters apart on the same floor are indistinguishable from startups on different floors. The main driver of the effect appears to be social interactions. While startups in close proximity are most likely to participate in social co-working space events together, knowledge spillovers are greatest between startups that socialize but are dissimilar. Ultimately, startups that are embedded in environments that have neither too much nor too little diversity perform better, but only if they socialize.
    JEL: M13 O3 O33 R12
    Date: 2022–06
  10. By: Mai, Nhat Chi
    Abstract: This paper explores how talent flow network and the firm life cycle affect the innovative performances of firms. This study first established an interorganizational talent flow network with the occupational mobility data available from the public resumes on LinkedIn China. Thereafter, this information was combined with the financial data of China’s listed companies to develop a unique dataset for the time period between 2000 and 2015. The empirical results indicate the following: (1) the breadth and depth of firms’ embedding in the talent flow network positively impact their innovative performances; (2) younger firms’ innovations are mostly promoted by the breadth of network embedding, but this positive effect weakens as firms increase in age; (3) mature firms’ innovations are primarily driven by the depth of network embedding, and this positive effect strengthens as firms increase in age. This paper enriches and deepens the studies of talent flow networks, and it provides practical implications for innovation management based on talent flow for various types of firms at different development stages.
    Date: 2022–03–27
  11. By: Albert Banal-Estañol; Tomaso Duso; Jo Seldeslachts; Florian Szücs
    Abstract: We investigate how R&D spillovers propagate across firms linked through Research Joint Ventures (RJVs). Building on the framework developed by ? which considers the opposing effects of knowledge spillovers and product market rivalry, we extend the model to account for RJV cooperation. Since the firm’s decision to join a RJV is endogenous, we build a model of RJV participation. The outcome equations and RJV participation are then jointly estimated in an endogenous treatment regression model. Our main findings are that the adverse effects of product market rivalry are mitigated if firms cooperate in RJVs; and that RJV participation allows firms to better absorb technological spillovers and, thus, create value.
    Keywords: Spillovers, Research Joint Ventures, R&D, Market Value
    Date: 2022–02–11
  12. By: David Autor
    Abstract: This review considers the evolution of economic thinking on the relationship between digital technology and inequality across four decades, encompassing four related but intellectually distinct paradigms, which I refer to as the education race, the task polarization model, the automation-reinstatement race, and the era of Artificial Intelligence uncertainty. The nuance of economic understanding has improved across these epochs. Yet, traditional economic optimism about the beneficent effects of technology for productivity and welfare has eroded as understanding has advanced. Given this intellectual trajectory, it would be natural to forecast an even darker horizon ahead. I refrain from doing so because forecasting the “consequences” of technological change treats the future as a fate to be divined rather than an expedition to be undertaken. I conclude by discussing opportunities and challenges that we collectively face in shaping this future.
    JEL: J23 J24 O33
    Date: 2022–05
  13. By: Flavio L. Pinheiro; Dominik Hartmann
    Abstract: Recent studies have found evidence of a negative association between economic complexity and inequality at the country level. Moreover, evidence suggests that sophisticated economies tend to outsource products that are less desirable (e.g. in terms of wage and inequality effects), and instead focus on complex products requiring networks of skilled labor and more inclusive institutions. Yet the negative association between economic complexity and inequality on a coarse scale could hide important dynamics at a fine-grained level. Complex economic activities are difficult to develop and tend to concentrate spatially, leading to 'winner-take-most' effects that spur regional inequality in countries. Large, complex cities tend to attract both high- and low-skills activities and workers, and are also associated with higher levels of hierarchies, competition, and skill premiums. As a result, the association between complexity and inequality reverses at regional scales; in other words, more complex regions tend to be more unequal. Ideas from polarization theories, institutional changes, and urban scaling literature can help to understand this paradox, while new methods from economic complexity and relatedness can help identify inclusive growth constraints and opportunities.
    Date: 2022–06

This nep-tid issue is ©2022 by Fulvio Castellacci. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.