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Knowledge Diversity Building by Inventors

Project description

Inventor knowledge diversity

The knowledge held by inventors and scientists is arguably the most important input to innovation. Yet the role of this type of human capital in the inventive process is scarcely understood. The EU-funded DIV_INV project will collect evidence on how knowledge profiles of inventors relate to inventive output. It will shed light on the tension between the benefits of specialisation and the costs of coordinating ever larger teams. In doing so, it will inform policy about the desirability of interventions that stimulate more (or less) inventor knowledge diversity. It also seeks to explain what drives individual inventors to broaden their expertise by switching fields. Understanding such mechanisms will help to more efficiently target public investments in innovation.


Why do some inventors build up knowledge in a broad variety of technological areas, while others stick to their field of expertise? Recent research has shown that inventor teams involving an individual with diverse knowledge are more likely to introduce breakthrough inventions. In the light of a general trend towards specialization and teamwork, this finding raises concern about an undersupply of breakthrough inventions and warrants policy intervention to stimulate individual knowledge diversity. However, to design effective policy instruments, we need to know how highly skilled knowledge workers make decisions regarding the scope of their expertise throughout their careers. To this end, the proposed research aims to explicate the mechanisms driving knowledge diversity decisions of individual inventors.



Net EU contribution
€ 171 473,28
Via sarfatti 25
20136 Milano

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Nord-Ovest Lombardia Milano
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00