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Location and the Innovation Performance of Commercial GIS Companies

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This paper looks at the role of firm size, location, and in-house research and development (R&D) in the innovation performance of U.S. firms in the commercial geographic information systems (GIS) industry. Data from a survey of 300 GIS firms are presented. The results suggest that innovation-intensity varies directly with in-house R&D spending (scaled as a proportion of company sales), but inversely with company size (total employment). Significant regional variations in the innovation performance of GIS firms are identified. It is argued that the geography of innovation is influenced by the spatial distribution of young and/or small firms, in that R&D-productivity is found to vary inversely with company size. An important finding is that creative inputs to support innovation are almost evenly divided between internal and external sources. A surprising result is that the academic community is not viewed as a particularly important source of new ideas for innovative firms. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the survey data for future empirical work on the GIS sector.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Census Bureau, Washington DC, 2: State University of New York at Buffalo

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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