Handbook of Industry Studies and Economic Geography
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Handbook of Industry Studies and Economic Geography

Edited by Frank Giarratani, Geoffrey J.D. Hewings and Philip McCann

This unique Handbook examines the impacts on, and responses to, economic geography explicitly from the perspective of the behaviour, mechanics, systems and experiences of different firms in various types of industries. The industry studies approach allows the authors to explain why the economic geography of these different industries exhibits such particular and diverse characteristics.
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Chapter 8: Spinoff regions: entrepreneurial emergence and regional development in second-tier high-technology regions – observations from the Oregon and Idaho electronics sectors

Heike Mayer


There has been a great bias in economic geography and industry studies toward studying pioneering high-tech regions such as Silicon Valley. As a result, smaller regions that have managed to establish entrepreneurial and innovative high-tech clusters have often been overlooked. Yet, these so-called ‘second-tier’ high-tech regions have also been successful in growing and fostering concentrations of specialized high-tech firms (Mayer, 2009, 2011). Moreover, these regions might be able to shed light on one of the most important questions in economic geography and industry studies: how do clusters of knowledge-based industries emerge? Second-tier high-tech regions might be ideal cases to examine this question. Unlike Silicon Valley, they do not have certain prerequisites of high-tech growth such as a world-class research university and large amounts of venture capital. Instead, these high-tech regions have bootstrapped their economies through extensive spinoff processes. In this chapter, I argue that it is exactly these spinoff processes that can help us understand the emergence of second-tier high-tech regions and more specifically clusters in general. A focus on spinoff regions will help us address a lack of understanding about cluster formation and the processes by which spatial concentrations of knowledge-based industries come into existence. In recent years, scholars have started to examine the genesis of clusters and they are paying particular attention to the role of entrepreneurship (Braunerhjelm and Feldmann, 2006). Economic geographers and industry studies scholars are starting to develop concepts and theories about the genesis and formation of clusters.

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