Seeking Resources or Seeking Knowledge? A Study of Mobility and Knowledge Creation Using Micro Data
Harvard Business School
I study the effect of inventor mobility on knowledge creation and make two significant departures from prior literature. In contrast to prior studies based on large patent datasets or surveys, I use employment, travel and demographic data for 1315 inventors at an emerging market R&D center of a Fortune 50 multinational. Also, the prior literature has focused on how mobility helps inventors access distant knowledge. In contrast I hypothesize that mobility could additionally help inventors secure resources centralized at a distant location. To test this and to account for endogeneity and selection, I consider inventors who could not travel because they got married/had children and match them to similar inventors without such constraints. I find that not being to travel leads to lower patenting over the next two years. I also find support for the resource seeking hypothesis - travel to the headquarters leads to higher patenting, however travel to non-headquarter R&D locations in Europe and Asia does not have the same effect. Given the centralization of resources at the headquarters for the MNC that I study, I argue that in this context mobility of inventors is related to securing resources for knowledge creation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Mobility, Knowledge Creation, Resources, Multinationals, Emerging Markets
JEL Classification: O32, F23
Date posted: September 12, 2010