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It’s a match! Simulating compatibility-based learning in a network of networks

Michael P. Schlaile (), Johannes Zeman and Matthias Mueller
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Michael P. Schlaile: University of Hohenheim
Johannes Zeman: University of Stuttgart

Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2018, vol. 28, issue 5, 1111-1150

Abstract: Abstract In this article, we develop a new way to capture knowledge diffusion and assimilation in innovation networks by means of an agent-based simulation model. The model incorporates three essential characteristics of knowledge that have not been covered entirely by previous diffusion models: the network character of knowledge, compatibility of new knowledge with already existing knowledge, and the fact that transmission of knowledge requires some form of attention. We employ a network-of- networks approach, where agents are located within an innovation network and each agent itself contains another network composed of knowledge units (KUs). Since social learning is a path-dependent process, in our model, KUs are exchanged among agents and integrated into their respective knowledge networks depending on the received KUs’ compatibility with the currently focused ones. Thereby, we are also able to endogenize attributes such as absorptive capacity that have been treated as an exogenous parameter in some of the previous diffusion models. We use our model to simulate and analyze various scenarios, including cases for different degrees of knowledge diversity and cognitive distance among agents as well as knowledge exploitation vs. exploration strategies. Here, the model is able to distinguish between two levels of knowledge diversity: heterogeneity within and between agents. Additionally, our simulation results give fresh impetus to debates about the interplay of innovation network structure and knowledge diffusion. In summary, our article proposes a novel way of modeling knowledge diffusion, thereby contributing to an advancement of the economics of innovation and knowledge.

Keywords: Agent-based modeling; Cognitive distance; Exploitation; Exploration; Innovation; Innovation networks; Knowledge compatibility; Knowledge diffusion; Knowledge networks; Learning; Memetics; Network-of-networks (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C63 D83 D85 L14 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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