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Psychology and the geography of innovation

Lee, Neil (2016) Psychology and the geography of innovation. Economic Geography. pp. 1-25. 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 which has used generalised proxy measures to account for subtle personal differences. This paper argues that the psychological literature on personality traits can help address this issue and so provide important insights into the socio-institutional determinants of innovation. It uses a unique, largescale 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. The results here suggests that a new focus is needed on hard work and organizational ability.

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)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2016 09:28
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2019 11:09

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