Thirteenth Babbage Lecture, 12 November 2014, 17.00 - 19.00, IfM, Cambridge
Greater Boston’s Industrial Ecosystem: A Manufactory of Sectors
“Innovations, almost by definition, are one of the least analyzed parts of economics, in spite of the verifiable fact that they have contributed more to per capita economic growth than any other factor” (Arrow 1988: 281)
This paper examines the origins and characteristics of a large population of technology differentiating enterprises in greater Boston and the cumulative processes by which new opportunities for innovation are both created and enacted in the form of emerging, co-adapting, and growing high tech sectors. Greater Boston’s population of high-tech enterprises are the drivers of industrial innovation. But they do not do so alone. The population of enterprises is embedded in an evolving regional industrial ecosystem that facilitates ongoing reshuffling of the region’s legacy engineering expertise, technology capabilities and financial resources for not only a single company but for a cluster of companies to develop distinctive capabilities and grow fast. The concept of a regional industrial ecosystem suggests a locality analogous to Darwin’s ‘small area’ in which a ‘manufactory of species’ is active but applied to the emergence, coadaptation, and growth of diverse sectors.
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