Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

May 9, 2017

# 17.09 Economic Geography in R: Introduction to the EconGeo package

Pierre-Alexandre Balland


The R statistical software is increasingly used to perform analysis on the spatial distribution of economic activities. It contains state-of-the-art statistical and graphical routines not yet available in other software such as SAS, Stata, or SPSS. R is also free and open-source. Many graduate students and researchers, however, find programming in R either too challenging or end up spending a lot of their precious time solving trivial programming tasks. This paper is a simple introduction on how to do economic geography in R using the EconGeo package (Balland, 2017). Users do not need extensive programming skills to use it. EconGeo allows to easily compute a series of indices commonly used in the fields of economic geography, economic complexity, and evolutionary economics to describe the location, distribution, spatial organization, structure, and complexity of economic activities. Functions include basic spatial indicators such as the location quotient, the Krugman specialization index, the Herfindahl or the Shannon entropy indices but also more advanced functions to compute different forms of normalized relatedness between economic activities or network-based measures of economic complexity. By opening and sharing the codes used to compute popular indicators of the spatial distribution of economic activities, one of the goals of this package is to make peer-reviewed empirical studies more reproducible by a large community of researchers.

April 24, 2017

# 17.08 The pattern of structural change: testing the Product Space framework

Filed under: 2017 — mattehartog @ 5:34 pm

Nicola D. Coniglio, Raffaele Lagravinese, Davide Vurchio, Massimo Armenise


The set of available local ‘capabilities’ determines what an economy produces today (its static comparative advantage) and, at the same time, defines the trajectories that the process of structural change may take in the future. The Product Space (PS) framework developed in recent seminal works by economists and physicists suggests that path dependence characterizes the evolution of the production basket (Hausmann and Klinger, 2007; Hidalgo et al. 2007). These authors represent economies as sets of productive capabilities that can be combined in different ways to produce different products. Countries progressively change their production baskets and move towards goods that require capabilities that are already available; on the contrary radical structural change rarely happens. In this paper, we analyse the evolution over time of the production baskets in 107 Italian provinces (NUTS 3) and perform the first test on the PS hypothesis of path dependence. We investigate whether new products entering the provincial production baskets are non-randomly related to initial production baskets. We confirm the general tendency of path dependence, but highlight at the same time that a sizable share of ‘new products’ are an exception to this general pattern. These ‘random entries’ over the PS are particularly interesting for industrial policy since they represent radical deviations from the initial comparative advantage. In the final part of the paper, we investigate using parametric analysis the product and provincial characteristics that determine these deviations from the PS pattern.

March 20, 2017

# 17.07 The spatial evolution of the Italian motorcycle industry (1893-1993): Klepper’s heritage theory revisited

Andrea Morrison, Ron Boschma


This paper investigates the spatial evolution of the Italian motor cycle industry during the period 1893-1993. We find support for both the heritage theory of Klepper and the agglomeration thesis of Marshall. Indeed, being a spinoff company or an experienced firm enhanced the survival rates, but we also found a positive effect of being located in the Motor Valley cluster in Emilia Romagna. Interestingly, this beneficial effect of a cluster could not be found outside the Emilia Romagna region. This might indicate the importance of a favourable local institutional environment, as propagated by the Emilian district literature.

# 17.06 Collective Learning in China’s Regional Economic Development

Filed under: 2017 — mattehartog @ 1:32 pm

Jian Gao, Bogang Jun, Alex “Sandy” Pentland, Tao Zhou, César A. Hidalgo


Industrial development is the process by which economies learn how to produce new products and services. But how do economies learn? And who do they learn from? The literature on economic geography and economic development has emphasized two learning channels: inter-industry learning, which involves learning from related industries; and inter-regional learning, which involves learning from neighboring regions. Here we use 25 years of data describing the evolution of China’s economy between 1990 and 2015–a period when China multiplied its GDP per capita by a factor of ten–to explore how Chinese provinces diversified their economies. First, we show that the probability that a province will develop a new industry increases with the number of related industries that are already present in that province, a fact that is suggestive of inter-industry learning. Also, we show that the probability that a province will develop an industry increases with the number of neighboring provinces that are developed in that industry, a fact suggestive of inter-regional learning. Moreover, we find that the combination of these two channels exhibit diminishing returns, meaning that the contribution of either of these learning channels is redundant when the other one is present. Finally, we address endogeneity concerns by using the introduction of high-speed rail as an instrument to isolate the effects of inter-regional learning. Our differences-in-differences (DID) analysis reveals that the introduction of high speed-rail increased the industrial similarity of pairs of provinces connected by high-speed rail. Also, industries in provinces that were connected by rail increased their productivity when they were connected by rail to other provinces where that industry was already present. These findings suggest that inter-regional and inter-industry learning played a role in China’s great economic expansion.

February 13, 2017

# 17.05 Institutional Change and Network Evolution: Explorative and Exploitative Tie Formations of Co-Inventors During the Dot-com Bubble in the Research Triangle Region

Filed under: 2017 — mattehartog @ 5:37 pm

Max-Peter Menzel, Maryann P. Feldman, Tom Broekel


We investigate how institutions impact tie formation. In doing so, we describe Venture Capital as institution that can direct firm strategies towards exploration or exploitation. These strategies are translated into tie formations: explorative tie formation produces structural holes as a source of “good ideas”, exploitative tie formation closes structural holes to facilitate the mobilization of resources to put ideas into products. Using the example of co-inventors in ICT in the Research Triangle Park during the dot-com bubble, we expected explorative tie formation during the bubble and exploitative tie formations after its burst. Stochastic Actor Oriented Models did not clearly support our assumptions. We found that the emergence of venture capital lead to a large variance in connection patterns during the bubble, probably resulting from overlapping institutional effects. After the burst of the bubble, these incoherencies disappeared.

January 28, 2017

# 17.04 What drives employment growth and social inclusion in EU regions?

Filed under: 2017 — Tags: , , , , — mattehartog @ 7:38 pm

Marco Di Cataldo and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose


The European Union promotes development strategies aimed at producing growth with “a strong emphasis on job creation and poverty reduction”. However, whether the economic conditions in place in EU regions are ideal for the generation of high- and low-skilled employment and labour market inclusion is unclear. This paper assesses how the key factors behind EU growth strategies – infrastructure, human capital, innovation, quality of government – condition employment generation and labour market exclusion in European regions. The findings indicate that the dynamics of employment and social exclusion vary depending on the conditions in place in a region. While higher innovation and education contribute to overall employment generation in some regional contexts, low-skilled employment grows the most in regions with a better quality of government. Regional public institutions, together with the endowment of human capital, emerge as the main factors for the reduction of labour market exclusion – particularly in the less developed regions – and the promotion of inclusive employment growth across Europe.

# 17.03 Does federal contracting spur development? Federal contracts, income, output, and jobs in US cities

Filed under: 2017 — Tags: , , , , , — mattehartog @ 7:36 pm

Michiel Gerritse and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose


Government contracts are frequently courted by firms and governments alike as a solution to generate more jobs, income, and economic growth. However, the development impact of government contracts remains controversial. This paper uses georeferenced data on United States (US) federal contracts, distinguishing between the location of the recipient and the location of performance, for the years 2005-2014 in order to assess the extent to which federal government contracting has contributed to job and wealth generation and economic growth in metropolitan areas of the US. The results of the analysis show that individuals living in cities with a higher share of contract spending per capita witnessed improvements in employment. Aggregate GDP per capita also rose in cities hosting the companies receiving the contracts. However, the effects – once reverse causality and spurious trends are controlled for using a fine-scale fixed effect strategy and instrumentation – are very small, raising reasonable questions about the viability of federal contracting as a vehicle for economic development.

January 7, 2017

# 17.02 Relatedness as driver behind regional diversification: a research agenda

Filed under: 2017 — mattehartog @ 5:02 pm

Ron Boschma


The regional diversification literature claims that regions diversify in new activities related to their existing activities from which new activities draw on and combine local capabilities. The paper makes a critical assessment and identifies a number of crucial issues for future research. The paper calls for: (1) a disentanglement of the various types of capabilities that make regions diversify; (2) the inclusion of more geographical wisdom in the study of regional diversification, like a focus on the effects of territory-specific contexts (like institutions) and non-local relationships; (3) an investigation in the conditioning factors of related and unrelated diversification in regions; (4) a micro-perspective on regional diversification that assesses the role of economic and institutional agents in a multi-scalar perspective.

# 17.01 When Buzz and Pipelines Fail

Filed under: 2017 — mattehartog @ 5:01 pm

Christopher R. Esposito, David L. Rigby


Explanations for why some cities outperform others frequently rest on the assumed benefits of local and global interaction. Within the “buzz and pipelines” literature, the costs and returns to interaction have rarely been examined in formal settings. In this paper we extend research on knowledge sharing by modeling local and global interactions between firms distributed across city-regions. Our simulation model develops an evolutionary framework where firms explore and exploit knowledge sets that are accumulated over time by recombining technologies held by local and non-local firms. Our results make two contributions to the existing literature. First, we show why too much local interaction can induce technological lock-in and restrict cities’ innovative growth. Second, we illustrate that non-local interaction entails opportunity costs that can outweigh its benefits. Together, the results unearth the conditions under which local and non- local interactions strengthen the economies of cities and when they fail to do so.

November 9, 2016

# 16.30 A critical review of entrepreneurial ecosystems: towards a future research agenda

Filed under: 2016 — Tags: , , , , — mattehartog @ 5:13 pm

Yana Borissenko and Ron Boschma


The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (EE) literature has attracted much attention, especially in policy circles. However, the concept suffers from a number of shortcomings: (1) it lacks a clear analytical framework that makes explicit what is cause and what is effect in an entrepreneurial system; (2) while being a systemic concept, the EE has not yet fully exploited insights from network theory, and it is not always clear in what way the proposed elements are connected in an entrepreneurial system; (3) it remains a challenge what institutions (and at what spatial scale) impact on the structure and performance of EE; (4) studies have often focused on the EE in single regions or clusters, but lack a comparative and multi-scalar perspective; (5) the EE literature tends to provide a static framework taking a snapshot of EE without considering systematically their evolution over time. For each of these shortcomings, we make a number of suggestions to take up in future research on EE.

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