Do specialized cities have different collaboration networks than diversified cities? And does this matter for patent production? In this paper evaluate the technological relatedness of US cities’ patent stocks to determine degree of specialization. Examining the co-inventor networks of these patents, we find that inventors in specialized cities are better connected and that this explains why specialized cities produce more patents than diversified cities.
Research on the US urban system has shown that metropolitan regions with more local and non‐local network ties outperform cities where economic agents are isolated. Yet, little attention is given to the character of the local knowledge base and how that influences network structure. We show that co‐inventor networks differ between cities that produce specialized and diversified knowledge. Models of tie‐formation show inventors in specialized cities value spatial proximity less and cognitive proximity more than inventors in diversified cities as they partner with non-local inventors. These findings suggest that the influence of social networks on knowledge production is conditioned by the architecture of the local knowledge base.