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Entrepreneurial activity and the dynamics of technology-based cluster development: the case of Ottawa

Harrison, R.T. and Cooper, S.Y. and Mason, C.M. (2004) Entrepreneurial activity and the dynamics of technology-based cluster development: the case of Ottawa. Urban Studies, 41 (5-6). pp. 1045-1070. ISSN 0042-0980

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Abstract

Relatively little attention has been given to the role of entrepreneurial dynamics in the origin and growth of technology clusters. To the extent that the role of entrepreneurship is considered at all, the emphasis is on the locally embedded nature of the process and on the characteristics of the incubator organisation-the immediate past employer of the entrepreneur-and its role as the source of entrepreneurial know how and the technological ideas upon which the new business is based. This paper argues that this is too simplistic a view. There are two strands to the argument. First, entrepreneurs are not 'local'. Rather, they are attracted to technology clusters, or incipient clusters, by a range of magnet organisations (talent attractors). Secondly, entrepreneurs draw on their experience and the networks established during their entire career, working in different organisations and places, and not just on those resulting from their immediate past employment. These processes are illustrated with reference to the technology-based cluster in the Ottawa region of Canada. The paper concludes that the entrepreneurial dynamics underlying cluster development are best understood through an analysis of the role of magnet organisations and the development of a 'talent pool' in supporting the localisation of economic activity in particular spaces over time.