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Labor mobility and organizational proximity: routines as supporting mechanisms for variety, skill integration 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.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
2017 (English)In: Industry and Innovation, ISSN 1366-2716, E-ISSN 1469-8390, Vol. 24, no 8, 775-794 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to introduce an organisational dimension to the discussion of knowledge flows and relatedness. We hypothesise that not only the degree of technological relatedness influence the extent of skill integration in a firm but also that familiarity with firm routines (intra-organisational proximity) should smoothen absorption. Longitudinal micro-data are used in pooled ordinary least square- and fixed effect models to estimate the impact on plant productivity growth of 18,051 labour flows within, and to, four large Swedish firms between 2003 and 2006. Our findings suggest that intra-regional related flows are economically beneficial. Their link to localised capabilities and community creates a weaker but more productive link between individuals than do organisational proximity, which generate too much similarity to allow for cognitively related inflows to impact productivity growth. Also, we find a positive relationship between unrelated flows and plant performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2017. Vol. 24, no 8, 775-794 p.
Keyword [en]
organisational proximity, firm routines, labour mobility, plant performance, related variety
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100916DOI: 10.1080/13662716.2017.1295362ISI: 000410776400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-100916DiVA: diva2:794872
Note

First published in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2015-03-13 Created: 2015-03-13 Last updated: 2017-10-03Bibliographically 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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Östbring, LisaEriksson, RikardLindgren, Urban
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