Technological specialization and variety in Urban invention

Breandan O'Huallachain, Der Shiuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Technological specialization and variety in urban invention, Regional Studies. Urban economic theory distinguishes between knowledge spillovers that occur within specializations and those that cross technologies. Empirical analysis has sought to gauge their relative strength, but the results are inconclusive. Metropolitan specialization and variety at different aggregation levels of a US patent classification system are assessed using Theil's relative entropy index. The results show that specialization and variety are not competing features of urban technological structure; cities can have both. The invention rate positively associates with specialization in diverse technologies. The cross-fertilization of ideas among skilled professionals with different expertise and the interaction between specialists of narrow fields of knowledge are both important in technological advance. The most inventive cities have deep specializations in different technologies. The results also show significant spatial dependence in technological specialization/variety and in invention rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-88
Number of pages22
JournalRegional Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011


  • Externalities
  • Invention
  • Patents
  • Specialization
  • Urban
  • Variety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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