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.

August 3, 2016

# 16.22 Can we learn anything from economic geography proper? Yes, we can!

Filed under: 2016 — Tags: , , , — mattehartog @ 4:39 pm

Robert Hassink, Huiwen Gong, Fabian Faller


Since the launch of new economic geography by Paul Krugman there have been intensive debates between geographical economists and economic geographers both about the ways they differ from each other as well as about potential complementarities. Overman’s (2004) provocative article, titled “can we learning anything from economic geography proper?” has been not very helpful in developing the latter. By responding to his core critiques we provide a much more positive answer to his question, do justice to economic geography and show more complementarities between geographical economics and economic geography.

February 18, 2015

# 15.04 Proximity, knowledge base and the innovation process: The case of Unilever’s Becel diet margarine

Filed under: 2015 — Tags: , , , , , — mattehartog @ 6:18 pm

Mila Davids & Koen Frenken


The proximity concept refers to types of inter-organizational relationships that are expected to facilitate interactive learning and collaborative innovation. Different forms of proximity include geographical, cognitive, social, institutional and organizational proximity. Following an extensive case study of a new diet margarine developed by Unilever, we extent the proximity framework by theorizing how the relative importance of each proximity dimension depends on the type of knowledge being produced, where we distinguish between analytical, synthetic and symbolic knowledge. We argue that our theoretical framework in principle applies to product innovations in all science-based industries.

January 20, 2015

# 15.02 The geography and evolution of complex knowledge

Filed under: 2015 — Tags: , , , , , — mattehartog @ 1:34 pm

Pierre-Alexandre Balland & David L. Rigby


There is consensus among scholars and policy makers that knowledge is one of the key drivers of long-run economic growth. It is also clear from the literature that not all knowledge has the same value. However, too often in economic geography and cognate fields we have been obsessed with counting knowledge inputs and outputs rather than assessing the quality of knowledge produced. In this paper we measure the complexity of knowledge across patent classes and we map the distribution and the evolution of knowledge complexity across U.S. cities from 1975 to 2004. We build on the 2-mode structural network analysis proposed by Hidalgo and Hausmann (2009) to develop a knowledge complexity index (KCI) for Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The KCI is based on more than 2 million patent records from the USPTO, and combines information on the technological structure of 366 MSAs with the 2-mode network that connects cities to the 438 primary (USPTO) technology classes in which they have Relative Technological Advantage (RTA). The complexity of the knowledge structure of cities is based on the range and ubiquity of the technologies they develop. The KCI indicates whether the knowledge generated in a given city can be produced in many other places, or if it is so sophisticated that it can be produced only in a few select locations. We find that knowledge complexity is unevenly distributed across the U.S. and that cities with the most complex technological structures are not necessarily those that produce most patents.

December 8, 2013

# 13.25 Modeling Knowledge Networks in Economic Geography: A Discussion of Four Empirical Strategies

Tom Broekel, Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Martijn Burger, Frank van Oort


The importance of network structures for the transmission of knowledge and the diffusion of technological change has been emphasized in economic geography. Since network structures drive the innovative and economic performance of actors in regional contexts, it is crucial to explain how networks form and evolve over time and how they facilitate inter-organizational learning and knowledge transfer. The analysis of relational dependent variables, however, requires specific statistical procedures. In this paper, we discuss four different models that have been used in economic geography to explain the spatial context of network structures and their dynamics. First, we review gravity models and their recent extensions and modifications to deal with the specific characteristics of networked relations. Second, we discuss the quadratic assignment procedure that has been developed in mathematical sociology for diminishing the bias induced by network dependencies. Third, we present exponential random graph models that not only allow dependence between observations, but also model such network dependencies explicitly. Finally, we deal with dynamic networks, by introducing stochastic actor oriented models. Strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches are discussed together with domains of applicability for the analysis of (knowledge) network structures and their dynamics.

October 8, 2012

# 12.19 Path dependence research in regional economic development: Cacophony or knowledge accumulation?

Filed under: 2012 — Tags: , , , — mattehartog @ 8:43 am

Martin Henning, Erik Stam, Rik Wenting


The concept of path dependence has gained momentum in the social sciences, particularly in economic geography. In this paper, we explore the empirical literature on path dependence and path creation in regional economic development. We offer a critical reflection on these studies and outline commonalities and problems in research designs and empirical testing. Our review suggests that the popularity of the concept of path dependence in regional studies has led to a cacophony of studies rather than a purposeful accumulation of knowledge around the concept. To remedy this situation, we identify gaps and suggest guidelines for future empirical research on the role of path creation and path dependence in uneven regional development.

April 14, 2011

# 11.07 Explaining the structure of inter-organizational networks using exponential random graph models: does proximity matter?

Tom Broekel and Matté Hartog


A key question raised in recent years is which factors determine the structure of inter-organizational networks. While the focus has primarily been on different forms of proximity between organizations, which are determinants at the dyad level, recently determinants at the node and structural level have been highlighted as well. To identify the relative importance of determinants at these three different levels for the structure of networks that are observable at only one point in time, we propose the use of exponential random graph models.

Their usefulness is exemplified by an analysis of the structure of the knowledge network in the Dutch aviation industry in 2008 for which we find determinants at all different levels to matter. Out of different forms of proximity, we find that once we control for determinants at the node and structural network level, only social proximity remains significant.

June 10, 2010

#10.08 How do Clusters/Pipelines and Core/Periphery Structures Work Together in Knowledge Processes? Evidence from the European GNSS Technological Field

Filed under: 2010 — Tags: , , , , — Noegg Blogger @ 7:19 pm

Pierre -Alexandre Balland and Raphael Suire and Jerome Vicent


Abstract: This paper contributes to the empirical identification of geographical and structural properties of innovative networks, focusing on the particular case of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) at the European level. We show that knowledge bases of organizations and knowledge phases of the innovation process are the critical factors in determining the nature of the interplay between structural and geographical features of knowledge networks. Developing a database of R&D collaborative projects of the 5th and 6th European Framework Programs, we propose a methodology based on social network analysis. Its originality consists in starting from a bimodal network, in order to deduce two affiliation matrixes that allow us to study both the properties of the organization network and the properties of the project network. The results are discussed in the light of the mutual influence of the cognitive, structural and geographical dimensions on knowledge production and diffusion, and in the light of the knowledge drivers that give rise to the coexistence of a relational core-periphery structure with a geographical cluster and pipeline structure.

April 8, 2010

#10.05 Seeds of regional structural change. The role of entrepreneurs and expanding firms in shaping local path dependencies

Filed under: 2010 — Tags: , , , , — Noegg Blogger @ 12:51 pm

Frank Neffke, Matté Hartog, Ron Boschma and Martin Henning

PDF (This is the updated 2014 version of the paper)

Who introduces structural change in regional economies: Entrepreneurs or existing firms? And do local or non-local firms and entrepreneurs create most novelty in a region? Using matched employer-employee data for the whole Swedish workforce, we determine how unrelated and therefore how novel the activities of different establishments are to a region’s industry mix. Up- and downsizing establishments cause large shifts in the local industry structure, but these shifts only occasionally require an expansion of local capabilities because the new activities are often related to existing local activities. Indeed, these incumbents tend to align their production with the local economy, deepening the region’s specialization. In contrast, structural change mostly originates via new establishments, especially those with non-local roots. Moreover, although entrepreneurs start businesses more often in activities unrelated to the existing regional economy, new establishments founded by existing firms survive in such activities more often, inducing longer-lasting changes in the region.

February 12, 2010

#10.03 A theory on the co-evolution of seaports with application to container terminal development in the Rhine-Scheldt Delta

Filed under: 2010 — Tags: , , , , — Noegg Blogger @ 8:49 am

Wouter Jacobs and Theo Notteboom


How do seaports evolve in relation to each other? Recent studies in port economics and transport geography focused on how supply chain integration has structurally changed the competitive landscape in which individual ports and port actors operate. Port regionalization has been addressed as the corresponding new phase in the spatial and functional evolution of port systems. However, these studies lack theoretical foundations that allow us to empirically assess both the role of the institutional context and of strategic agency in the competitive (spatial and functional) evolution of regional (integrated) port systems. The paper presents a theoretical framework to analyze and understand the co- evolution of seaports in a regional context by making use of the concept of windows of opportunity. The empirical part will unravel the role of seaport-based co-evolution in the processes aimed at positioning market players and ports on the container scene in the Rhine-Scheldt Delta.

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