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Bringing Minds Together: High‐speed Railways, Team Building, and Innovation Collaboration

Chao Li, Qian Zhou and Shi Chen

China & World Economy, 2022, vol. 30, issue 6, 34-58

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of increased travelling efficiency on “innovation collaboration” between cities. It exploits China's recent high‐speed railway (HSR) connections in the Beijing‐Tianjin‐Hebei urban agglomeration. The paper instrumented HSR connections using the postal routes of the Yuan Dynasty and measured innovation collaboration using detailed information on patent applicants and citations. The results show that HSRs led to an increase in innovation collaboration by 121.7 percent from 1998 to 2016, and their overall quality increased by 111.3 percent. In comparison with universities (public sector), the paper found that private sector firms' patent outcomes showed a larger increase in both quantity and quality after the HSR connection. Interestingly, we found that the teams of researchers whose members changed after the HSR connection benefited the most in comparison with both continuing teams and newly formed teams. Additional results prove that HSRs contributed to the coordinated development of the Beijing‐Tianjin‐Hebei urban agglomeration. The results remained robust using alternative model specifications.

Date: 2022
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