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Journal Articles Journal of Technology Transfer Year : 2022

Migrant inventors as agents of technological change

Andrea Morrison
  • Function : Author


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.
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Dates and versions

hal-03683496 , version 1 (31-05-2022)





Ernest Miguelez, Andrea Morrison. Migrant inventors as agents of technological change. Journal of Technology Transfer, 2022, ⟨10.1007/s10961-022-09927-z⟩. ⟨hal-03683496⟩


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