Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Networking or agglomerating?

Here are two views from the urban economics literature that might be seen as dueling views.

“ … a central paradox of our times is that in cities, industrial agglomerations remain remarkably vital despite ever easier movement of goods and knowledge over space.”  (p. 1, “Introduction” Agglomeration Economics, E.L. Glaeser, ed. 2010, U. of Chicago Press)

“When co-location is infeasible, networks may substitute for agglomeration. This possibility of substitution means that small regions may survive and prosper …” (p. 11, “Agglomeration and networks in spatial economies” B. Johansson and J.M. Quigley, Papers in Regional Science (2004) 83, 1-12)

But perhaps we can agglomerate and network at the same time. Perhaps many like some of their networking to be face-to-face. I say all this because this morning's WSJ includes "This is the Boardroom of the 'Virtual' Biotech ... They Have No Lab Space, Few Employees but Lofty Goals ..." The accompanying story shows meetings by biotech start-up people in empty MIT classrooms as well as in a nearby coffee shop.