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Labour mobility and plant performance: on the (dis)similarity between labour- and capital-intensive sectors for knowledge diffusion and productivity
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
2013 (English)In: Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, ISSN 0435-3684, E-ISSN 1468-0467, Vol. 95, no 4, 287-305 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we analyse differences between capital- and labour-intensive sectors with regard to the impact of workforce composition and labour mobility on plant performance. By the use of geo-referenced longitudinal employer–employee data on a micro level, we analyse labour flows between plants within and between labour market regions. The analysis is carried out using weight least square (WLS) regression analysis combined with additional variance analysis (ANOVA). The results show that there are differences between the sectors with regard to both in-house workforce composition and type of skill inflow. A high degree of related knowledge in the in-house workforce has a strong positive effect on plant performance in the labour-intensive sectors. The analysis of labour inflow indicates that knowledge in the capital-intensive sectors is localized – only intra-regional labour flows give rise to increased plant productivity. In the labour-intensive sectors, the geographic and cognitive dimensions complement one another; similar knowledge needs to be non-local in order to be beneficial to plant performance, and unrelated knowledge mainly contributes to plant productivity growth when it is local.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Vol. 95, no 4, 287-305 p.
Keyword [en]
related variety, plant performance, labour mobility, production technologies, proximity, routines
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82774DOI: 10.1111/geob.12026ISI: 000334421500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-82774DiVA: diva2:663095
Available from: 2013-11-09 Created: 2013-11-09 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Relatedness put in place: on the effects of proximity on firm performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Relatedness put in place: on the effects of proximity on firm performance
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis contributes to recent theorizations in economic geography on the effects of proximity on firm competitiveness. One of the great challenge in the contemporary economy is for firms to remain competitive. Their innovative ability is highly dependent on the knowledge they possess and their ability to acquire new knowledge. It is argued that a relational proximity between individuals reduces uncertainty and offers a joint platform for communication and learning. Therefore, does this thesis apply a micro-perspective in which the labor force and the knowledge composition within plants is examined. The aim is pursued by exploring the interrelationship between different types of proximity in the labor force and plant performance. The proximity dimensions under scrutiny are; the cognitive-, the organizational-, and the geographical proximity dimension.

The three empirical papers in the thesis are based on longitudinal micro-data from the database ASTRID. The database connects detailed socio-economic data of individuals to features of plants and firms in the entire Swedish economy. The empirical findings suggest that the different types of proximities are interdependent with regard to learning in firms. The interdependence is manifested through the variable impact on plant performance that a given distance in one dimension has, depending on what other type of proximity is accounted for at the plant. It is further found that the proximity dimensions have conditional effects on learning and innovation in firms. The empirical findings also indicate that the circumstances under which learning and knowledge application take place, vary between capital-intensive and labor-intensive sectors. Moreover, it is found that relatedness in the cognitive dimension is not unambiguously positive for interactive learning and innovativeness. Similarity in one dimension and unrelatedness in the cognitive dimension, has a significantly stronger impact on interactive learning than simply having relatedness in the cognitive dimension. It therefore seems as if the combined distance of several proximity dimensions should be taken into account when estimating the innovative power of a firm or industry.

When the empirical findings are considered together it is evident that the local environment generates relational proximity between agents through formal- and informal networks. This proximity reproduces and rejuvenates the localized capabilities by allowing for the combination of heterogeneous pieces of knowledge in firms through local unrelated labor inflow. In conclusion, time and place are the paramount dimensions that shape the micro-dynamics of knowledge generation and innovation in firms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2015. 65 p.
Series
GERUM, ISSN 1402-5205 ; 2015:1
Keyword
Cognitive proximity, labor mobility, knowledge, plant performance, relatedness, proximity dimensions
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100940 (URN)978-91-7601-243-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-04-10, Hörsal D, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-03-20 Created: 2015-03-16 Last updated: 2015-03-27Bibliographically approved

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