'Old' and recent knowledge in a global industry; the integrated circuit industry and France, 1970s-2013

Yen-Chen Ho, Anna Spadavecchia

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Up-to-date knowledge enables firms to be innovative and competitive in the ever-changing business environment. While much research has been conducted on such “new” knowledge, much remains to be understood about the role of “old” knowledge in the innovation process. For this reason, this research analyses the use of both “old” and recent knowledge in semiconductor design by multinationals (MNEs) at the technological frontier. A novel patent citation database was constructed of twenty-eight world-leading design firms from the early 1970 s to 2013. Forty years of citations were analysed to identify the technological knowledge generated by French patenting entities in various industries across a period of more than forty years.
Among the industries identified as sources of knowledge for world-leading MNEs, the telecommunications infrastructure industry is the most significant. Innovation in this sector is linked to “new” knowledge, supporting the argument for “recently acquired” skills. Innovation in both the aerospace and defense industry and the IT industry, however, is linked to “old” knowledge. This research shows that the value of “old” knowledge depends on the specific industrial context of its origin. Knowledge and technologies generated in industries such as defense that undertake basic research with a wide range of applications are highly valuable to corporations for long periods of time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalEntreprises et Histoire
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020


  • technological innovation
  • knowledge
  • global industry
  • semiconductor Industry
  • France


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