Published online: 14 Mar 2022 – Economic Geography
This article assesses the network robustness of the technological capability base of 269 European metropolitan areas against the potential elimination of some of their capabilities. By doing so, it provides systematic evidence on how network robustness conditioned the economic resilience of these regions in the context of the 2008 economic crisis. The analysis concerns calls in the relevant literature for more in-depth analysis on the link between regional economic network structures and the resilience of regions to economic shocks. By adopting a network science approach that is novel to economic geographic inquiry, the objective is to stress test the technological resilience of regions by utilizing information on the coclassification of CPC (Cooperative Patent Classification) classes listed on European Patent Office patent documents. We find that European metropolitan areas show heterogeneous levels of technology network robustness. Further findings from regression analysis indicate that metropolitan regions with a more robust technological knowledge network structure exhibit higher levels of resilience with respect to changes in employment rates. This finding is robust to various random and targeted elimination strategies concerning the most frequently combined technological capabilities. Regions with high levels of employment in industry but with a vulnerable technological capacity base are particularly challenged by this aspect of regional economic resilience.
Key words: regional economic resilience, network robustness, metropolitan regions, technology space