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Relatedness put in place: on the effects of proximity on firm performance
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography and Economic History.
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 [en]
Cognitive proximity, labor mobility, knowledge, plant performance, relatedness, proximity dimensions
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100940ISBN: 978-91-7601-243-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-100940DiVA: diva2:795330
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
List of papers
1. Labour mobility and plant performance: on the (dis)similarity between labour- and capital-intensive sectors for knowledge diffusion and productivity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Labour mobility and plant performance: on the (dis)similarity between labour- and capital-intensive sectors for knowledge diffusion and productivity
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
Keyword
related variety, plant performance, labour mobility, production technologies, proximity, routines
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-82774 (URN)10.1111/geob.12026 (DOI)000334421500001 ()
Available from: 2013-11-09 Created: 2013-11-09 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Labor mobility and organizational proximity: routines as supporting mechanisms for variety, skill integration and productivity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Labor mobility and organizational proximity: routines as supporting mechanisms for variety, skill integration and productivity
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
Keyword
organisational proximity, firm routines, labour mobility, plant performance, related variety
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100916 (URN)10.1080/13662716.2017.1295362 (DOI)000410776400001 ()
Note

First published in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2015-03-13 Created: 2015-03-13 Last updated: 2017-10-03Bibliographically approved
3. Relatedness through experience: on the importance of collected worker experiences for plant performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Relatedness through experience: on the importance of collected worker experiences for plant performance
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
Cognitive proximity, worker experience, human capital, plant performance, KIBS
National Category
Economic Geography
Research subject
Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-100917 (URN)10.1111/pirs.12273 (DOI)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form.

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

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Citation style
  • apa
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  • de-DE
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