Connect or Perish: From the Genesis of Connections to the Creation of Innovation


A country’s ability to innovate is necessary to address macroeconomic challenges, including health, environmental, social issues. Today's innovation is centered on collaboration, and connections between organizations and inventors dispersed worldwide represent the main channel of knowledge generation. The lone inventor belongs to the bygone era, as – in a fast-changing and complex world - connections allow to leverage unique heterogeneous knowledge inputs highly tight to individuals and locations.
Digitalization and international mobility of people are significantly changing how innovation is created. Managers and policymakers struggle to seize the political and socio-economic effects of these trends on innovation. Theories from economic geography, innovation, and international business have focused on different levels of analysis in isolation and led to contradicting predictions.
I propose to go back to the origins and start from the individual innovative agents to explain how connections are formed and how knowledge is generated at more aggregate levels (e.g., organization, region, country). My research will provide a comprehensive theory of micro-foundations of knowledge-based collaborations combining: i) an interdisciplinary approach across international business, innovation and economic geography, ii) expertise in the quantitative assessment of knowledge collaborations, and iii) an innovative combination of survey, patent and social media scraped data.
My proposal has three objectives. Project 1 investigates the influences of work- and social-based connections on the configuration of knowledge collaborations. Project 2 investigates how the collaborative innovation mechanisms associated to the different typologies of connections influence innovation outcomes. Project 3 investigates the contingent effects of time and space (e.g., colocation, temporary proximity, migration) on knowledge collaborations and innovation outcomes.
My research will explain the dynamics of innovation in an interconnected world. Project findings will provide feedback to policymakers about the policy design on digitalization, migration, attraction of foreign high-skilled human capital, and promotion of international collaborations.


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. V.G. Scalera

Affiliated with

Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde, Amsterdam Business School

Team members

Dr. V.G. Scalera


01/01/2019 to 31/08/2021