The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 579–599 | Cite as

The economics of collective knowledge and technological communication



Technological knowledge can be understood as a collective good when it is the outcome of the integration between internal to the firm investments in R&D and learning and the absorption of competencies and technologies provided by external organizations (such as, other firms, universities, R&D centers). Technological communication is a crucial strategy in such dynamic interaction between the firm and the system. Only under effective conditions of technological communication the private and social benefits derived from the exploitation of spillovers are higher than the private losses due to partial inappropriability. The article presents a simple microeconomic framework to understand knowledge production and distribution, integrating the effects and conditions of technological communication within a knowledge production function. The interaction between internal investments in R&D and learning, partial inappropriability, the conditions for the access to external knowledge and the exploitation of spillovers explains increasing returns in the production of knowledge.


Collective knowledge Increasing returns Knowledge diffusion Knowledge spillovers Technological communication 

JEL Classifications

O31 O33 



Cristiano Antonelli, Davide Consoli, Stan Metcalfe, Francesco Quatraro, Ed Steinmueller and two anonymous referees of this Journal provided useful suggestions and comments. I acknowledge the financial support of the Collegio Carlo Alberto of the University of Torino through the funding of BRICK - Bureau of Research on Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio di Economia dell’Innovazione “Franco Momigliano”, Dipartimento di EconomiaUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly

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