On the Trail of Core–periphery Patterns in Innovation Networks: Measurements and New Empirical Findings from the German Laser Industry
It has been frequently argued that a firm’s location in the core of an industry’s innovation network improves its ability to access information and absorb technological knowledge. The literature has still widely neglected the role of peripheral network positions for innovation processes. In addition to this, little is known about the determinants affecting a peripheral actors’ ability to reach the core. To shed some light on these issues, we have employed a unique longitudinal dataset encompassing the entire population of German laser source manufacturers (LSMs) and laser-related public research organizations (PROs) over a period of more than two decades. The aim of our paper is threefold. First, we analyze the emergence of core–periphery (CP) patterns in the German laser industry. Then, we explore the paths on which LSMs and PROs move from isolated positions toward the core. Finally, we employ non-parametric event history techniques to analyze the extent to which organizational and geographical determinates affect the propensity and timing of network core entries. Our results indicate the emergence and solidification of CP patterns at the overall network level. We also found that the paths on which organizations traverse through the network are characterized by high levels of heterogeneity and volatility. The transition from peripheral to core positions is impacted by organizational characteristics, while an organization’s geographical location does not play a significant role.