The Geography of Scientific Knowledge Diffusion

Session organizers:

Magda Fontana (magda.fontana@unito.it), Fabio Montobbio (fab.montobbio@gmail.com), Paolo Racca (paolo.racca@unito.it)


There is an enormous amount of literature on knowledge spillovers as key determinants of technological innovation, and economic growth. It is much less explored the geography of scientific knowledge and how it diffuses across regions and countries. As science is becoming more complex, teams are becoming larger spanning across different disciplinary fields, it is interesting to ask to what extent the advancements of science is becoming increasingly globalised and/or localised in centres of excellence. Understanding the geography of the processes related to the creation and diffusion of scientific knowledge has important policy implications, as almost all countries couple policies towards the knowledge economy with the idea that universities and public research centres should be more internationalised.

Science advancements are based on the construction of invisible colleges in specific fields that interact a build consensus on the legitimacy scientific questions, practices and methodologies. How geographically concentrated are these invisible colleges? how fast knowledge created spans across regions and countries? Can be observe different patterns in different disciplines?. This special session is aimed also at disentangling the different channels of scientific knowledge diffusion. This means evaluating how the propensity to engage in international collaborations varies from discipline to discipline, what patterns are present (and why) considering that international and interdisciplinary collaborations appear as an important prerequisite of high-impact research.

This special session is therefore open to works which (i) track scientific knowledge flows over time, across regions/countries and disciplines/topics; (ii) understand the geography of the complex network related to invisible colleges; e.g. looking at the organizational and spatial patterns of co-authorship and teamwork in science; (iii) study international and inter-regional mobility of scientists and its impact on research production.