Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Applied Economics


Barkley, David L.


Regional innovation systems (RIS) and innovative activity are now recognized as having important roles to play in regional economic development policy. The goal of this study is to expand our understanding of the relationship between regional economic growth and the local characteristics of RIS. The research identified the existence and importance of sources of innovation, knowledge spillovers, and regional spillovers as the principal characteristics of RIS in the South. A knowledge production function approach was used to estimate the determinants of innovative activity in rural counties. A zero inflated negative binomial model was estimated to capture the influence of local characteristics of the county on the existence and volume of innovative activity in the county.

The findings of this research indicate that local innovative activity and characteristics of RIS matter in regional economic growth. Patenting activities in metro areas had a positive and statistically significant association with patent totals for nearby rural areas. However, the results of the OLS models and the simultaneous system of equations for the extended Carlino-Mills model found a negative association between metro patenting activity and economic growth of neighboring rural areas, indicating 'backwash' effects. Thus, the implication from these findings is that regional policymakers should be careful of investments in metro RIS if the goal is economic development in nearby rural areas.

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