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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Diffusion of Breakthrough Technologies in the United States (1975-2005)

  • Author(s): Rietmann, Carsten Philipp
  • Advisor(s): Rigby, David L
  • et al.

This thesis examines the determinants of the spatial diffusion and adoption of breakthrough technologies, across industries and over time. It sets its focus on the United States between 1975 and 2005. Using patent data, this study uses survival analysis methods to test how geographical, social, and cognitive proximity, as well as additional covariates influence technological diffusion. In particular, an Extended Cox Hazard model is estimated and adapted to different subsets of the data. In total, 406 narrow technological fields within the United States Patent Classification are analyzed. These are all major technologies that were introduced after 1975. The thesis engages with breakthrough invention and novelty literature, as well as classic literature on spatial (innovation) diffusion as well as more recent proximity literature and technology-centered case studies. The results affirm that the expectations derived from theory regarding the role of proximities hold empirically. However, it also emphasizes the partial heterogeneity in these effects.

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