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Relatedness through experience: on the importance of collected worker experiences for plant performance
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.
2016 (English)In: Papers in regional science (Print), ISSN 1056-8190, E-ISSN 1435-5957Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

We demonstrate that multiple cognitive dimensions exist between employees in knowledge intensive business services (KIBS) and that these dimensions interact in their influence on plant performance. Knowledge and cognitive distance are measured as formal knowledge and industry experience. Pooled OLS regressions with year, industry, and region-fixed effects are used to estimate the impact on plant performance. The results suggest that the commonly found negative impact of similarity in formal knowledge on plant performance may be reduced by high human capital ratios or high levels of similarity in experience. Moreover, the organizational structures associated with single-plant and multi-plant firms, generate different plant performance outcomes of knowledge variety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Cognitive proximity, worker experience, human capital, plant performance, KIBS
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100917DOI: 10.1111/pirs.12273OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-100917DiVA: diva2:794874
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2015-03-13 Created: 2015-03-13 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically 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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