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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

Moving People with Ideas - Innovation, Inter-regional Mobility and Firm Heterogeneity


This paper looks at the link between inter-regional mobility, innovation and firms’ behavioural heterogeneity in their reliance on localised external sources of knowledge. By linking patent data (capturing inventors’ inter-regional mobility) with firm-level data (providing information on firms’ innovation inputs and behaviour) a robust identification strategy makes it possible to shed new light on the geographical mobility-innovation nexus. The analysis of English firms suggests that firm-level heterogeneity – largely overlooked in previous studies - is the key to explain the innovation impact of inter-regional mobility over and above learning-by-hiring mechanisms. A causal link between inflows of new inventors into the local labour market and innovation emerges only for firms that make the use of external knowledge sources an integral part of their innovation strategies.


Riccardo Crescenzi and Luisa Gagliardi

15 April 2015     Paper Number SERCDP0174

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This SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper is published under the centre's Urban programme.