ABSTRACTS OF PUBLICATIONS ON INNOVATIVE CAPACITY
by Prof. SUAREZ-VILLA
Suarez-Villa, L. (1990) “Invention, Inventive Learning, and Innovative Capacity.” Behavioral Science, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 290-310.
The contrasting performances of individual and corporate invention are analyzed from a long-term perspective, by exploring, first, the process of resource allocation to invention. Experiential learning, experimentation and uncertainty are assumed to be important micro-level characteristics of inventive processes, and are incorporated in a basic learning model of resource allocation and performance. The process of invention is related to the macrosocietal innovative capacity, by analyzing inventive performance over a 106-year period (1880-1986) with U.S. invention patent data. Fluctuations in the age distribution of patents, or age cycles, provide insights on the temporal structure of the societal innovative capacity, and help predict its fluctuations. The relationships between innovative capacity, individual and corporate invention, and long-term socioeconomic trends are then explored statistically. The societal innovative capacity and, more significantly, corporate invention, explain a substantial proportion of long-term changes in national income. The analyses presented in this article show that the concept of innovative capacity, created by the author, can serve as an important indicator of national performance on invention. Although the United States and other economically advanced nations rely substantially on technological invention and innovation to remain competitive, there is no measure or indicator of national performance on this aspect at the present time. The concept of innovative capacity is proposed as an index or indicator that can provide regular diagnostics of national performance on invention over time.
Suarez-Villa, L. (1993) “The Dynamics of Regional Invention and Innovation: Innovative Capacity and Regional Change in the Twentieth Century.” Geographical Analysis, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 147-164.
Reprinted in Regional Dynamics: Modern Classics in Regional Science, vol. I, edited by K. E. Haynes, K. J. Button and P. Nijkamp. Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar, 1997, pp. 65-84 (reprinted with permission of copyright holder).
The twentieth century dynamics of United States regional invention trends are explored in this study. Historically, regions that become major loci of invention have always gained much influence, through innovation diffusion, their human capital infrastructures, and their national economic and political projection. The United States has experienced a remarkable inversion of regional roles on invention since the middle of the twentieth century, where the predominant position of heartland regions (the Northeast and the Midwest) is being overturned. This analysis develops a macro-level measure of inventive output, innovative capacity, to evaluate changes in regional inventive performance and the potential for innovation. The analysis of patent age cycles provides insights on the temporal structure of the national and regional innovative capacity, and on the dynamics of crisis periods for U.S. scientific and technological invention. A consideration of regional income trends over the twentieth century and of innovative capacity performance shows the potential importance of endogenously generated inventions for regional development. The analyses presented in this article demonstrate that the concept of innovative capacity, originally introduced by the author in 1990, can serve as an important indicator or index of regional performance on invention. At the present time there is no measure or indicator that can provide regular diagnostics on regional (or sub-national) performance on invention.
Suarez-Villa, L. and Hasnath, S.A. (1993) “The Effect of Infrastructure on Invention: Innovative Capacity and the Dynamics of Public Construction Investment.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 333-358.
The association between public infrastructural investment and invention is explored in this study, analyzing spending, and patenting trends and cycles over much of the 20th century. First, innovative capacity, an endogenous indicator of U.S. innovation potential based on invention patent output, is discussed. A major shift in invention modes is shown to have occurred over seven decades (1920-1989) as corporate, rather than individual, invention became the most important source of national innovative capacity. The support of public infrastructure for invention is then analyzed, considering its most important characteristics and supportive functions, and its expenditure patterns over seven decades. The analysis of the infrastructural investment and innovative capacity age cycle dynamics reveals a remarkable association between educational infrastructure construction and both aggregate and corporate innovative capacity. Time-series statistical analyses provide further insights on the effects of infrastructural investment on invention, showing that corporate patenting tends to benefit more from public infrastructural construction, and that educational infrastructure expenditures provide a stronger association with both aggregate and corporate inventive performance. The analyses presented in this article show that infrastructure must be taken into account as a major support of invention and innovative capacity. Developing the technological leadership and competitiveness of any nation must consider first the kinds of infrastructural needs and investment that support national innovative capacity.
Suarez-Villa, L. (1996) “Innovative Capacity, Infrastructure and Regional Policy.” In Infrastructure and the Complexity of Economic Development, edited by D. F. Batten and C. Karlsson. Berlin, Heidelberg and New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 251-269.
The relationship between regional development policy, infrastructural investment and innovative capacity is explored conceptually and empirically in this contribution. National innovative capacity and its contribution to technological potential is considered first, using U.S. patent data for 1920-1989. A subsequent section then explores the relationship between innovative capacity and investment in infrastructure. Disaggregating innovative capacity into its corporate and individual components, and also infrastructure into educational and other infrastructural spending, provides insights on these two important forces in the process of economic development. Comparisons of patent age cycles for innovative capacity and infrastructural investment also provide insights on the correspondence of innovative capacity and infrastructure. A discussion of policy programs that can take into account the modes and means of invention and innovative capacity follows. Regional policies must consider both the development of innovative capacity and of educational infrastructure if they are to be successful in promoting economic development. Policy priorities must be devised and targeted to support endogenous invention and innovative capacity along with their supportive infrastructure. One of the support mechanisms considered is the creation of an Invention Development Fund (IDF) that can provide seed capital for highly innovative projects, and the incubation of small firms in new and technologically advanced activities. Collaboration between such firms must also become a priority for the IDFs. Another component of regional development policy programs targeting innovative capacity is the creation of an Invention Information Clearinghouse (IIC), to provide inventors with information on proposed or on-going projects that can lead to collaboration. The creation of both IICs and IDFs is seen as a means to accelerate a region’s innovative capacity and its development as a significant source of new technologies.
Suarez-Villa, L. (1997) “Innovative Capacity, Infrastructure and Regional Inversion: Is there a Long-term Dynamic?” In Innovative Behaviour in Space and Time, edited by C. S. Bertuglia, S. Lombardo and P. Nijkamp. Berlin, Heidelberg and New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 291-305.
The process of regional inversion is related to changes in innovative capacity and infrastructural spending in the United States during the twentieth century. Regional inversion occurs when previously peripheral or lagging regions converge with or overturn the predominant position of more advanced industrial regions. This is precisely what occurred in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century, as the Sunbelt rose toward the level of the Northeast and Midwest. This is by far the most radical process of regional change experienced in any advanced nation during the twentieth century. The new regional order promoted by this process of inversion is reflected in the rise of the Sunbelt as the most important source of innovative capacity, overshadowing the previously predominant role of the Northeast and Midwest. Historical trends for innovative capacity and infrastructural investment for the period 1920-1990 are related to this process, to determine their role in this changing regional context. The age cycle dynamics of regional innovative capacity, in particular, and of educational infrastructure investment, are examined to determine their causal correspondence and implications for the process of regional inversion. An important conclusion is that regional development must consider the endogenous and long-term generation of innovative capacity and new technologies. Processes of regional inversion rely on that dynamic, yet they are typically neglected in conventional economic analyses and policy programs.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2000) Invention and the Rise of Technocapitalism. Lanham, New York and Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. 265 pages + xv [paperback edition ($19.95) available from www.RowmanLittlefield.com and online book retailers].
Technocapitalism, an emerging form of market capitalism, is rooted in invention and the development of new technologies. Invention and innovative capacity play a central role in this phenomenon. The first chapter of the book considers the growing importance of the intangibles that support invention and innovative capacicty. Inventive creativity and the diffusion of new knowledge are considered to be fundamental supports of invention and are related to the massification of American education over much of the twentieth century. Comparisons between several advanced nations help place the American case in perspective. An important point made in this chapter is that invention has become a socioeconomic resource in its own right, despite its intangible character and the high levels of uncertainty and risk associated with its activities. The second chapter then considers the emergence of technocapitalism and its relationship with science, corporations and the state. The rise of continuous invention and its implications for paradigm shifts in science are examined, along with historical evidence of changes in the temporal lags between invention and innovation since the late nineteenth century. The major shift from individual toward corporate invention that occurred during the twentieth century is discussed and examined with historical data. Increasing market pressures, globalization, and the rise of new technology sectors have made it imperative for many firms to adopt continuous invention as an integral component of corporate strategy and structure. A critical perspective on the role of government in science and invention over the twentieth century and on past efforts to target invention is also provided.
The third chapter analyzes the accumulation of inventions over the twentieth century as one of the most important phenomena supporting the rise of technocapitalism. The concept of innovative capacity is discussed and applied, to show how the accumulation process developed and its most important characteristics. U.S. data for 115 years, starting in the late nineteenth century, provide ample evidence on the accumulation dynamic that supports the rise of technocapitalism. The rapid process of accumulation is also shown to have promoted major changes in the geographical sourcing of invention and innovative capacity in the United States. A fourth chapter then considers the cyclical structure of the process of accumulation analyzed in Chapter 3. Cyclical patterns of accumulation over the twentieth century are analyzed, to determine whether temporal regularities exist and what they mean for the accumulation of inventions. The contribution of corporate invention to the cyclical dynamic is considered. The new geography of invention in the United States is analyzed and is shown to be an important element in the process of accumulation and its cyclical dynamic.
The fifth chapter examines the role that infrastructure plays in supporting invention and innovative capacity. Infrastructural accumulation over the twentieth century is analyzed and related to the accumulation of inventions. A direct association between the accumulation of infrastructure and of inventions is established, using historical data on expenditures and innovative capacity. Educational infrastructure is found to have the most important association with invention. The chapter concludes with an analysis of how infrastructure has supported the rise of new geographical sources of invention in the United States. Chapter 6 brings together all the phenomena supporting the emergence of technocapitalism, by considering their interrelationships and support structures. The various phenomena, each considered separately in the previous chapters, are examined according to their micro-level and macro-level characteristics, their scope, and their effects. The accumulation phenomena are also explored in greater detail, along with their long-term character and their cyclical structure. The chapter concludes by analyzing the cyclical correspondence between the accumulation of inventions and of educational infrastructure, and by determining their temporal parameters and significance for the development of technocapitalism.
The last chapter then places the emergence of technocapitalism in perspective by considering its role in the centuries-long evolution of market capitalism. Technocapitalism is considered to advance market capitalism to a new phase, with invention, creativity, and the accumulation of knowledge taking up central roles in that process. Various social issues and effects that may result from the rise of technocapitalism are also explored. More than 300 bibliographic references document the many statements, views and opinions provided in this book.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2001) “Inventive Knowledge and the Sources of New Technology: Regional Changes in Innovative Capacity in the United States.” In Knowledge, Complexity and Innovation Systems, edited by M. M. Fischer and J. Frölich. Berlin, Heidelberg and New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 165-180.
Geographical changes in innovative capacity during the twentieth century are analyzed, to show how regions become major sources of new technology. An overview of the changes that turned the Sunbelt into the most important geographical source of invention and new technology in the United States is provided. Innovative capacity is then shown to be an important historical indicator of invention, considering its regional dynamics and accumulative character. The role of major Sunbelt states, such as California and Texas, is placed in perspective, along with demographic, institutional and political influences. The radical process of regional inversion that the United States experienced during the second half of the twentieth century is in part a product of geographical changes in innovative capacity. The factors that supported the rise of the Sunbelt as a major source of invention and new technology are macro-level and long-term in scope and character. Infrastructural development, particularly for the kind of infrastructure that is more closely related to human capital development, was a powerful transformational factor. The availability of venture capital was also important in this process of change, because of the growing importance of corporate invention for the high technology revolution of the late twentieth century.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2001) “The Rise of Technocapitalism.” Science Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 4-20 (Special Issue on the ‘Commodification and De-Commodification of Knowledge”).
The rise of technocapitalism involves the commodification of knowledge in faster and more diverse ways than at any previous time in human history. The emergence of the so-called knowledge society is itself an outcome of this process. This article provides insights, from a macro-analytical perspective, on the phenomena that mark the emergence of technocapitalism as a new form of market capitalism, and their influence on the commodification of knowledge for invention and innovation. The phenomena in question involve, first, the rapid accumulation of inventions and of knowledge-sensitive infrastructure. The concept of innovative capacity is shown to be an important indicator of accumulation for the period 1880-1995, demonstrating how accumulation advanced and underpinned the emergence of technocapitalism. The rapid reproduction of creativity and a faster diffusion of knowledge, both of which have been supported by a massification of technical education, were also important for the emergence of the new era. Their contribution to the commodification of technological knowledge is most obvious in the pervasive corporatization of invention and innovation, and even more so in the emergence of continuous invention and innovation as a standard component of corporate strategy.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2002) “Policies or Market Incentives? Major Changes in the Geographical Sources of Technology in the United States, 1945-1995.” In Regional Policies and Comparative Advantage, edited by B. Johansson, C. Karlsson and R. Stough. Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar, pp. 127-150.
The American policy context and the role of market forces in promoting changes in the geographical sources of invention are debated in this article. An overview of the most important changes that occurred in the United States’ geographical sourcing of new technology is provided first. Precise definitions of invention, innovation and R&D (research and development) help avoid the sort of confusion that frequently involves these terms in the literature. Twentieth century data on the geographical sourcing of new inventions are examined, with emphasis on the period 1945-1995. The concept of innovative capacity is used to illustrate how the major U.S. regions changed as sources of invention and new technology. Selected state-level innovative capacity data are also provided, to show the states that were the main drivers of change within each region. A discussion of the American policy context then follows, considering the kinds of forces that have affected the radical redistribution of technological sourcing. The policy programs and projects that contributed to change the geographical sourcing of new technology had strong links with market forces. The programs that were both linked to market forces and were geographically sensitive (or location-specific) were the most effective. In that regard, programs involving infrastructure and human capital development were most significant in changing the geographical sourcing of new technology.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2003) “Innovative Capacity, Networks and the Rise of the Experimental Firm: Implications for Regional Development and Policy.” Paper presented at the International Workshop on Modern Entrepreneurship, Regional Development and Policy: Dynamic and Evolutionary Perspectives, Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam (available from the author).
This contribution explores the relationship between inter-organizational network relations and innovative capacity, and their significance for the emergence of a new kind of organization: the experimental firm. It is argued that a radical departure from traditional regional development theories and methods may be necessary in order to fully account for the spatial impacts of this new organizational form and the activities it encompasses. Network relations are important for supporting invention and innovation in the kinds of sectors that are likely to be representative of the twenty-first century, such as biotechnology, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, molecular computing, and software design. The organizations that are most representative of these sectors rely greatly on networks, research alliances and collaborative arrangements, and must develop high levels of innovative capacity in order to remain viable. Invention and innovation dominate all other activities, as firm survival itself depends on research performance. The relationship between inter-firm network relations and innovative capacity is considered first, followed by discussions of how collaborative arrangements enhance innovative capacity. Evidence from empirical research on the biotechnology sector is discussed, to consider how collaborative arrangements, such as alliances and outsourcing, support the innovative capacity of firms. The factors that regional development specialists and policy-makers should take into account when dealing with the new organizations and activities likely to be hallmarks of the twenty-first century are then addressed.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2004) “The Experimental Firm: Innovative Capacity and Creativity in Research-intensive Sectors.” In Productivity and Quality Management Frontiers- X, Proceedings of the International Conference on Productivity and Quality Research. International Society for Productivity and Quality Research (available in CD-ROM; also available from the author).
A new ecology of organizations is emerging to deploy creativity and knowledge, leading to new ways of structuring and managing firms. New sectors likely to be hallmarks of the twenty-first century, such as biotechnology, genomics, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, molecular electronics, biopharmacology, software and biorobotics, will very likely depend on this new ecology of organizations for their development. A result of this phenomenon is the re-creation of business firms involved in technological innovation as experimental organizations, dedicated to deploying and sustaining high levels of innovative capacity internally and through networks. The organizations that are most representative of these new sectors may be referred to as experimental firms, because of their overarching emphasis on research creativity and productivity. Most of these firms succeed or fail on the basis of their research discoveries and productivity. This contribution considers the emergence of the experimental firm as a driver of rapid technological change. The concept of innovative capacity will be related to the characteristics of these new organizations. Six distinctive features that are representative of the experimental firm as a new form of organization will be considered. Each of the features discussed will be related to the need to sustain internal and network-based innovative capacity, and its main objective: research creativity and productivity.
Suarez-Villa, L. (2007) “Networks, Innovative Capacity and the Experimental Firm: Implications for Regional Development Policy.” In Spatial Interaction and Information Strategies for Emerging European Networks, edited by Maria Giaoutzi and Peter Nijkamp. Avebury: Ashgate, pp. 13-35.
This contribution explores the relationship between inter-organizational network relations and innovative capacity at the level of firms, along with their significance for the emergence of the experimental firm. Network relations are thought to be important for supporting innovation in such activities as biotechnology, bioinformatics, software design and nanotechnology. Some of the most innovative organizations in those sectors have been shown to rely greatly on research alliances and other collaborative arrangements. These organizations must necessarily develop high levels of innovative capacity in order to remain viable. The need to generate high levels of innovative capacity and the overarching emphasis on research is a major factor behind the rise of a new kind of organization: the experimental firm. Experimental firms are organizations where research and innovation dominate all other activities, and where the survival of the firm depends on research performance. This paper explores, first, the relationship between inter-firm network relations and innovative capacity, to see how the former contribute to the latter. A second component explores how collaborative arrangements enhance innovative capacity. A final section considers the factors that regional development specialists and policy-makers might take into account when dealing with the kinds of firms and innovative activities that are likely to be representative of the twenty-first century.
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