Regional social networks as conduits for knowledge spillovers: explaining performance of high-tech firms

J. Boshuizen, Petrus A.T.M. Geurts, A. van der Veen

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The purpose of this paper is to open the 'black box' of knowledge spillovers by testing the extent to which social interactions between firms in a region positively contribute to firm performance. Specifically, we examine the Marshall-Jacobs controversy, a debate over whether these spillovers occur across firms operating in similar or dissimilar fields. Our empirical examination of the debate relies on a dataset that is constructed from three sources: firm-level data of 1,881 high-tech firms in all 40 Dutch regions, regional economic data and network data constructed from the membership registrations of all business associations in a sample of 11 regions. The results show that the total amount of regional network activity has no effect on individual firm performance; however, participation in local business networks does support firm employment growth. With regards to the Marshall-Jacobs controversy, the results show that having local links to other high-tech firms is conducive to a firm's employment growth, while links to other types of firms provided no such lift.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalTijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Firm performance
  • Multi-level analysis
  • agglomerations
  • Knowledge spillovers
  • The Netherlands
  • Social Networks
  • METIS-256409
  • IR-61473

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