Geography & Environment Publications

Corporate Knowledge Transfer via Interlocking Directorates: A Network Analysis Approach

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This paper explores spatial changes to knowledge transfer by Canadian and American corporate networks from 1976 to 1996. Results support facets of a World Cities approach for Canada. Toronto lies at the top of the hierarchy, while Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver fall into a third tier of specialized regional cities. The American knowledge network also possesses facets of the world cities approach. The world city, New York, lies at the top of the hierarchy. Further down, Chicago is a specialized national city, while a number of regional centers have emerged to play a larger role over the twenty-year study period. A third tier of cities has emerged to play the critical role of specialized regional cities. This geographical phenomenon can be explained in terms of industry, headquarters locations, and network maturity. Finance, insurance and real estate, as well as “other manufacturing” are three sectors of the economy that are prominent in the network. In Canada, these sectors have increasingly centralized in Toronto while decentralizing in the United States. Similarly, the headquarters location of American firms is decentralizing from New York and Chicago, while Canadian headquarters continue to be centralized in Toronto. Finally, results indicate that the potential for knowledge transfer depends upon maturity of the system under investigation. The mature US network with a large pool of qualified business individuals is better suited for knowledge transfer at the regional level. The Canadian network is less developed and not appropriate for regional systems of knowledge transfer. The result is a Canadian corporate knowledge threshold that encompasses the entire country while a number of much smaller corporate knowledge thresholds appear across the United States.