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The effect of the dynamics of knowledge base complexity on Schumpeterian patterns of innovation: the upstream petroleum industry

Maleki, A   Rosiello, A   Wield, D

January 2016

Innogen working paper no. 116

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This paper addresses important changes in innovation patterns in the upstream petroleum industry over the period from the 1970s to 2005. It argues that the shifts in patterns of innovation over that period can be explained by the dynamics of knowledge base complexity (KBC). A knowledge base is defined as complex if it involves integration and combination of different scientific and technological disciplines and requires a variety of competences (such as R&D, design, engineering and production). We develop a quantitative method to explore KBC and show that increasing KBC has shifted innovation patterns, from a broadly Schumpeter Mark I to a ‘modified’ form of Schumpeter Mark II, led less by the established oil majors, but by a new class of integrated service companies.