Knowledge flows and technological trajectories in the Mediterranean area: Evidence from patent citations
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The innovation process is a fundamental source of economic growth and recent research in urban economics and economic geography suggests that geographical proximity between innovators may be important to technological innovation. Many authors also claim that the rise of a knowledge-based economy and changes in the organization of the innovation process have actually increased the value of such proximity to innovation. But yet there is little empirical research on how knowledge flows between developed countries to developing ones and vice versa. A high level of consensus exists regarding the importance of scientific progress and technological innovation for the growth and competitiveness of firms and for the improvement of national economic performance. Most of the literature focus on international technology diffusion between developed countries, The literature emphasize principally on three channel for the international knowledge diffusion: the international trade that assures free access to knowledge embodied in imported goods (Coe and Helpman 1995) and knowledge in global export markets through “learning by exporting” (Bernard and Jensen 1999) and the contact with advanced foreign firms; the labour mobility that is source of knowledge exchange because workers are endowed with specific know-how (Rhee 1990, Pesola, 2007); and finally foreign direct investment (FDI) (Blomstrom and Kokko 1998, Aitken and Harrison 1999, Crespo and Fontoura 2007) that represents an important source of technological spillovers although the empirical evidence remains mixed with regards to the distributions of benefits between the multinational and domestic companies. In order to test the existence of a further channel in international knowledge diffusion, some recent empirical work analysed in a knowledge production framework (KPF) (Murseth and Verspagen 2002, Bottazzi and Peri 2003, Peri 2005). At sectoral level, Malerba et al. (2007) found that extremely relevant sectoral knowledge flows cross national borders. Only few make a relationship between developing countries and developed ones. Coe et al. (1997) examined north–south R&D spillover. They found that total factor productivity in developing countries is significantly boosted by the R&D stock of industrial countries, which they computed as the import-share-weighted sum of the R&D expenditures of a developing country’s trading partners in the north. They interpreted this as evidence of north–south R&D spillover. Hu and Jaffe (2003) examined patterns of knowledge diffusion from U.S. and Japan to Korea and Taiwan using patent citations. They found that Korean patents are more likely to cite Japanese patents than U.S. ones, maybe due to their proximity. They also found that both Korea and Taiwan are surprisingly reliant on relatively recent technology. A comparison of patterns in knowledge diffusion from the US and South East Asia (Korea and Taiwan) and Latina America (Brazil and Mexico) from 1976 till 2002 has been presented in the IV Globelics Conference at Mexico City. Aboites and Beltran (2008) conclusion were that the patterns of knowledge diffusion from US to Latin American and South East Asian countries are quite different. They found that the South East had a higher number of patents granted in USPTO than their Latin American counterparts and the technologies registered in Korea and Taiwan were of high technology (Information and Communications, Electric and Electronics, etc.) meanwhile in Latin America (Brazil and Mexico) the technologies registered were of traditional tech fields (mechanical, chemical, etc.). In their studies, they found also that the citations received (forward) by Korea and Taiwan outnumber the citations received by Mexico and Brazil. That means that the value of knowledge in Asian countries. Montobbio and Sterzi (2008) analysed nature, sources and determinants of international patenting activity in Latin American countries and the extent to which these countries benefit from R&D performed in some developed countries, using a patent citation analysis. They found that that the stock of ideas produced in the US has a strong impact on the international patenting activity of these countries. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the pattern of knowledge flows and technological trajectories, as indicated by patent citations, between North Saharan (NS) countries and South European (SE) countries and explore the nature of these flows during the 1984-2003 period. The results describes the patterns of knowledge diffusion for the NS area counties and SE area countries during the 1983-2004 period are quite different. We found that, obviously, the SE area countries had a higher number of patents granted in EPO than the NS area countries. Furthermore, the technologies registered in SE area countries were evenly distributed across sector meanwhile in NS countries the technologies registered were of traditional tech fields and tend to exclude the Mechanical Elements/Machine Tools/Transport and the Consumer goods sectors. That means that the value of knowledge in SE area countries is more important that the value of NS area countries. The other strong finding, to be further investigate, is the extremely high speed of knowledge diffusion seen both in forward and backward citations from/to the NS area countries for the sector of industrial process.