Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Patents--Alaska; Knowledge economy--Alaska;


In the last few years, Alaska's economy suffered as world oil prices plunged to very low levels, and the analysts predicting that Alaska output will continue to dwindle in the years to come. As a result of Alaska's dependence on oil economy, the state now faces a budget deficit. Modern economic development theories suggest searching for ways to manage northern frontiers. Investment in a knowledge –based economy seems to be new one of the appealing alternatives, and investing the human capacities is necessary. There is enough evidence from both central and peripheral regions that geographic proximity between the people and the organizations that creates knowledge is still at the core of region’s ability to nurture a successful regional innovation system.

As the Alaska economy recovers from the recent economic crisis, the focus is now shifting towards how the new sources of economic growth can be fostered in order to provide the jobs and prosperity for the coming decades. In the state of Alaska, there have been very few studies of the knowledge and creative economies. The key features of a knowledge economy include a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources, combined with efforts to integrate improvements in every stage of the production process. Patents are usually considered as a representation of the knowledge economy. We provide evidence drawn from patent data to document dynamics in knowledge production. Over thirty-five years (1976-2010) investigation of the spatial distribution of patents and typological characteristics of innovation activities in Alaska had done. The primary results show that Alaska has considerable patent activity, especially in wells industry sector, that there is strong clustering of innovation in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Matanuska Boroughs and that there is a relationship between innovation and employment in the top 25 industry sectors in Alaska.

Overall, between 1976 and 2010 AKRIS evolved from a small isolated system dominated by individual (lone-eagle) inventors focused on the innovation in old, low-technology sectors to a relatively diversified (although still over-reliant on the oil sector) intra- and internationally connected system with a considerable presence of company-driven innovation, but yet a strong position of individual inventors, including those from smaller communities. Correlation analysis show that the most significant relationship was observed with population, overall inventor count, and employment in 25 top patent –producing sectors. Further studies need to apply more qualitative and quantitative analysis methods, such as network analysis, to create a full clear image of innovation production over a long-time frame. Including more socio-economic factors that impact innovation activities in Alaska and connecting the dynamics of innovation with other processes in Alaska and global economy would also be important.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Geography

First Advisor

Andrey N. Petrov

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 130 pages)



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