The global field of R&D and its silent and/or noisiness global implications

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Sao Paulo (2018)


action field, Automotive business, Global governance, patent analysis


Talking about globalization, Fligstein (2001, p. 222) states that much of what is credited to the account of a “structural globalization” lacks of empirical evidence. Moreover, much that really affects the social life is an action of a global elite. In this paper, we explore the case of automotive industry and the firms’ efforts to a silent accumulation of cultural capital, and how it’s supporting changes in the social life.
To do that, we are sustaining ourselves in a social space totally built over patents’ data. Firstly, patents are the objectification of the embodied and institutionalized culture; thus, this is one of the three forms of capital, the cultural capital (Bourdieu, 2001). Secondly, since patents are by-product of firms’ R&D, it’s also a source of social engagements. We can access it through the property rights inscribed in the patent’s “assignees”. This is a protection source, or a conception of control (Fligstein, 2001), which also is the existential reason for the social (Fligstein & McAdam, 2012). Through that we can access a social capital (Bourdieu, 2001). Then, we can draw a social space not only on the social networked form among “co-assignees”, but also in the way actors works on technology through this networked form (Latour, 1996).
Yet, Neil Fligstein credited to the problem of price the central point of the competition. At the same time he places technology as an exogenous variable. However, in the automotive industry, R&D is a field itself and it is an endogenous source of market change. In this sense, Neil Fligstein lacks the problem of technology and/or knowledge domain as source of competition.
Patents generates an extraordinary amount of data, flowing in certain networked nodes. Firms competes to master these flows, which creates access asymmetry (Urry, 2010) among them. The theoretical object here is a market as a field (Fligstein, 2001), and we aim to demonstrate empirically its homology with R&D field.
We collected data at Derwent platform from 1995 to 2017 under the IPC B60 – automotive. Our sample comprehends 22K patents, which is ≈2% of the population. The sample criteria was the most cited thousand records per year. With the data, we organized cross-time 2-mode networks (Knoke & Yang, 2008) to simulate/identify global flows of technology, firms’ access to flows, and firms’ coalitions.
Evidences demonstrates high concentration of patents origin/priority from firms in USA, Japan, German, China, France, Korea and UK, above 97% of the 22K records (Table 01). With increased competition over Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) and Electric Vehicles (EV) flows. The emergence of plug-in HEVs (PHEV) and robotics scapes (code Industry_4.0) looks to be a way to increase new corporate assets - Crosstab 01. Countries like Brazil, Mexico, India and Spain, in the top 10 producers (OICA, 2016) are almost zero records. As Fligstein (2001) states the globalization implications in social life is in hand of an elite, and its competition. Not only in trade or price dimension, but also in mastering technological flows. 
Bourdieu, P. (2001). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson, M. Granovetter, & R. Swedberg (Eds.), The Sociology of Economic Life (2nd Edition ed., pp. 96-111). Cambridge: Westview Press.
Fligstein, N. (2001). The Architecture of Markets. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Fligstein, N., & McAdam, D. (2012). A Theory of Fields (1st Edition ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Knoke, D., & Yang, S. (2008). Social Network Analysis (2nd. Edition ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Latour, B. (1996). On actor-network theory - A few clarifications. Soziale Welt, 47, pp. 396-381.
Urry, J. (2010). Mobile sociology. The British Journal of Sociology, pp. 347-366. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2009.01249.x

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