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Social networks and industrial geography

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2003 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson

In many industries, production resides in a small number of highly concentrated regions; for example, several high tech industries cluster in Silicon Valley. Explanations for this phenomenon have focused on how the co-location of firms in an industry might increase the efficiency of production. In contrast, this article argues that industries cluster because entrepreneurs find it difficult to access the information and resources they require when they reside far from the sources of these valuable inputs. Since existing firms often represent the largest pools of these important factors, the current geographic distribution of production places important constraints on entrepreneurial activity. As a result, new foundings tend to arise in the same areas as existing ones, and hence reproduce the industrial geography. In support of this thesis, the article reviews empirical evidence from the shoe manufacturing and biotechnology industries.

Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 13 (2003): 513-527

Toby E. Stuart and Olav Sorenson

In this paper, we examine the ecological consequences of initial public offerings (IPOs) and acquisitions, specifically how the spatial distribution of these events influences the location-specific founding rates of new companies. We explore whether relatively small spatial units (metropolitan statistical areas) in close geographic proximity to firms that recently have been acquired or experienced an IPO exhibit high new venture creation rates and whether the magnitudes of these effects depend on regional differences in statutes governing the freedom of employees to move between employers. Count models of biotechnology firm foundings establish three findings: (1) IPOs of organizations located contiguous to or within an MSA accelerate the founding rate within that MSA, (2) acquisitions of biotech firms situated near to or within an MSA accelerate the founding rate within the MSA, but only when the acquirer enters from outside of the biotech industry, and (3) the enforceability of post-employment non-compete covenants, which is determined at the state level, strongly moderates these effects.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 48 (2003): 175-201

Toby E. Stuart and Olav Sorenson

One of the most commonly observed features of the organization of markets is that similar business enterprises cluster in physical space. In this paper, we develop an explanation for firm co-location in high-technology industries that draws upon a relational account of new venture creation. We argue that industries cluster because entrepreneurs find it difficult to leverage the social ties necessary to mobilize essential resources when they reside far from those resources. Therefore, opportunities for high tech entrepreneurship mirror the distribution of critical resources. The same factors that enable high tech entrepreneurship, however, do not necessary promote firm performance. In the empirical analyses, we investigate the effects of geographic proximity to established biotechnology firms, sources of biotechnology expertise (highly-skilled labor), and venture capitalists on the location-specific founding rates and performance of biotechnology firms. The paper finds that the local conditions that promote new venture creation differ from those that maximize the performance of recently established companies.

Research Policy, 32 (2003): 229-253