Theses Doctoral

Un-traded Interdependencies' as a Useful Theory of Regional Economic Development: a comparative study of innovation in Dublin and Beijing

Powers, John

The dissertation is an international comparative project examining metropolitan regional economic development. Focused on the connection between economic geography and economic learning, the study examines the locus of regional innovation in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in each region (Dublin and Beijing) through small sample survey methodologies. An applied theory project, this dissertation relies on transaction cost and evolutionary economic theory to examine the micro-foundations of how regions are being touted for their "collective learning systems" and how this is an important aspect of understanding how rapid economic change occurs. Among some of the most influential arguments in this area are those often made by regional planners, industrial geographers, and economic sociologists which perceive of such dynamic regions as constituting a "nexus of un-traded interdependencies."

Based on a small sample of twenty indigenous firms ICT firms in each region, the project takes aim at the often unspecified ways firm-specific capability development is argued to result from the interplay between industrial knowledge and issues of spatial clustering. Goal-seeing behavior of firms is seen through the lens of evolutionary notions of search, while transaction cost principles are regarded as fundamental to structuring pool effects, especially in labor supply and local knowledge pool issues linked to agglomerated industrial forms.

Three inter-related propositions guide the analysis of the survey work. The first is that an assessment of how knowledge-based assets are developed through territorialized concepts of learning must focus on evolutionary properties of firm search strategies and differentiate between more and less advanced firms since they are likely to draw upon regional assets in different ways. The second is to examine the process of innovation itself in its traded and un-traded aspects by analyzing patterns in R&D decision-making, strategic networking, and contracting behavior. The third is how some seemingly similar development outcomes in each region are based in differentiated processes and modes of social regulation, and stresses the underlying conventions in social, political, and historical motivations of strategy and political economy constraints linking firm and industry developments to their broader institutional systems.

This latter is centered on science and technology policy, on one hand, and urban redevelopment and governance of the property markets, on the other, and underscores the international comparative scope of the project.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Fainstein, Susan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 30, 2013