The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography
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The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography

Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin

This wide-ranging Handbook is the first major compilation of the theoretical and empirical research that is forging the new and exciting paradigm of evolutionary economic geography.
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Chapter 15: Complexity, Networks and Knowledge Flows

Olav Sorenson, Jan W. Rivkin and Lee Fleming


15 Complexity, networks and knowledge flow* Olav Sorenson, Jan W. Rivkin and Lee Fleming 1. Introduction Though not framed as such, this chapter emerges directly from an evolutionary perspective on economic geography. To provide some sense of its relationship to the rest of the volume, we begin with a brief account of the path leading up to this study. After providing this context, we then discuss the chapter’s more immediate implications for the literature on evolutionary economic geography. The journey began with a study of entrepreneurs in the multimedia industry. Though never published, interviews with and surveys of firm founders led the first author to question the assumption that entrepreneurs actively evaluate and choose locations. Instead, they seem more likely simply to found their firms in the regions in which they reside. In part, this behavior undoubtedly stems from a desire to avoid the costs of moving. But it also reflects the difficulty of starting a new venture, particularly outside of one’s home region. Social connections help entrepreneurs to identify opportunities, to raise financial capital and to recruit employees. For most, the relations that enable these processes remain firmly rooted in their local regions, and therefore they tend to bind entrepreneurs to the regions in which they reside. Building on this assumption and the fact that a large proportion of entrepreneurs begin businesses in industries in which they have prior experience, the first author proposed that industries should agglomerate even when collocation offered no benefits. Since those with experience in...

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