CSH Webtalk by Tom Broekel: “Technological complexity and economic growth”

May 07, 2021 | 15:0016:00

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Tom Broekel (University of Stavanger Business School) will present an online talk within the seminar “Analysis of Complex Systems” on May 07, 2021 from 3pm – 4 pm (CET).

If you would like to join the talk, please send an email to office@csh.ac.at


Title: Technological complexity and economic growth



Among scholars it is consensus that knowledge is the key driver of innovation and economic growth. However, the (economic) value of knowledge, the efforts needed for its generation, its radicalness, and its ease of spatial diffusion considerably vary over time as well as between technologies. In particular, the capabilities to produce, adopt, and exploit complex technologies is seen key to exploit high economic rents and sustains competitive advantage. However, it is still unclear how to empirically identify complex technologies and differentiate them from simple ones.


The most prominent approach uses information on technologies’ concentration in space to approximate complexity or assess the difficulty of recombining knowledge. Recently, the measure of structural complexity has been proposed that quantifies the heterogeneity in the combinatorial structures of technologies’ knowledge elements. Utilizing this measure and patent data, it can be shown that technological complexity grows over time, that it involves more collaboration, and requires greater R&D efforts. Yet, so far, little is known about its relationship with economic growth.


In the talk, recent empirical evidence on this for the case of European regions’ economic growth over 15 years and for the economic development of the U.S. over 130 years will be presented.


May 07, 2021