Research and teaching

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

Pino G. Audia, Olav Sorenson, and Jerald Hage

Firms face a choice in the organization of production. By concentrating production at one site, they can enjoy economies of scale. Or, by dispersing production across multiple facilities, firms can benefit from product-specific efficiencies and enhanced organizational learning. When choosing to organize in multiple units, firms must also decide where to locate these units. Concentrating production geographically can enhance economies of scale and facilitate organizational learning. On the other hand, dispersing facilities might allow the firm to lower transportation costs, reduce risks, and forbear competition. To examine these tradeoffs, we compare exit rates of single-unit organizations to multiunit organizations and their constituent plants in the U.S. footwear industry between 1940 and 1989. Our results suggest that, multiunit organizations benefit primarily from enhanced organizational learning, competitive forbearance and the diversification of risk. Nevertheless, these benefits appear to come at the expense of organizational adaptability.

Advances in Strategic Management, 18 (2001): 75-105

Olav Sorenson and Pino G. Audia

Nearly all industries exhibit geographic concentration. Most theories of the location of industry explain the persistence of these production centers as the result of economic efficiency. This article argues instead that heterogeneity in entrepreneurial opportunities, rather than differential performance, maintains geographic concentration. Entrepreneurs need exposure to existing organizations in the industry to acquire tacit knowledge, obtain important social ties, and build self-confidence. Thus, the current geographic distribution of production places important constraints on entrepreneurial activity. Due to these constraints, new foundings tend to reify the existing geographic distribution of production. Empirical evidence from the shoe industry supports this thesis.

American Journal of Sociology, 106 (2000): 424-462