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Hierarchy and Innovation: Patent Classes in the Urban Hierarchy of the United States

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For nearly a century Walter Christaller's Central Place Theory has served as a guiding framework in studies in economic geography. What began as a means for analyzing the disbursement of

For nearly a century Walter Christaller's Central Place Theory has served as a guiding framework in studies in economic geography. What began as a means for analyzing the disbursement of goods and services has grown into a methodology that encompasses a wide variety of phenomena including industrial location, spatial arrangement and innovative capacity. The aim of this paper is to use this conception on "central places" as a means of exploring the geographic alignment of patent classes, as they function within the existing urban hierarchy of the U.S. Revealing the relative ubiquity of patent classes as they relate to the size of the urban center in which they are developed helps to show the continue role that urban scale has in the development of new technologies. By analyzing the minimum threshold sizes for individual patent classes in urban areas by the overall frequency of the same patent classes we illustrate how the least ubiquitous patent classes are disproportionately found in the largest urban areas and the disbursement of patent types are distributed in a hierarchical fashion. This means the patent classes present in an urban area are also found in urban centers of equal or larger size.

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  • 2015-05