Rethinking the regional knowledge production function

Breandan O'Huallachain, Timothy F. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The knowledge production function is a questionable device for identifying the determinants of commercial patenting. Adapted from firm level analysis, it implicitly assumes that some mechanism exists to transfer research and development inputs across institutions to maximize invention output. Augmenting the approach with regional structure variables risks confounding causes and effects, because these conditions determine research and development in the first place. We contrast a knowledge production function and a regional structure model to identify the determinants of commercial patenting in US states in the period 2002-2004. Results show that human capital, specialized knowledge flows, urbanization and industry dominance in technical advance drive commercial patenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-752
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007


  • Invention
  • Regional economic development
  • Spillovers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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