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Psychology and the geography of innovation

Lee, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-4138-7163 (2017) Psychology and the geography of innovation. Economic Geography, 93 (2). 106 - 130. ISSN 0013-0095

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00130095.2016.1249845


Intangibles, such as tolerance, creativity and trust, are increasingly seen as important for the geography of innovation. Yet these factors have often been poorly approximated in empirical research that has used generalized proxy measures to account for subtle personal differences. This article argues that the psychological literature on personality traits can help address this issue and provide important insights into the socioinstitutional determinants of innovation. It uses a unique, large-scale psychological survey to investigate the relationship between the Big Five personality traits commonly used in psychology—openness to experience, neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness—and patenting in travel-to-work areas in England and Wales. The main personality trait associated with innovation is conscientiousness, a trait defined by organization, hard work, and task completion. Instrumental variable analysis using religious observance in 1851 suggests that this is a causal relationship. Research on the role of intangibles in innovation has been preoccupied by factors, such as creativity and trust, but the results of this article suggest that a new focus—on hard work and organizational ability—is needed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Clark University
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
JEL classification: O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O30 - General
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O18 - Regional, Urban, and Rural Analyses
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2016 09:28
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 23:12

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