Journal Article

Knowledge-bases, places, spatial configurations and the performance of knowledge-intensive professional service firms

Bruce S. Tether, Qian Cher Li and Andrea Mina

in Journal of Economic Geography

Volume 12, issue 5, pages 969-1001
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1468-2702
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1468-2710 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jeg/lbs015
Knowledge-bases, places, spatial configurations and the performance of knowledge-intensive professional service firms

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behaviour

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In recent years, both economic geographers and innovation scholars have paid considerable attention to knowledge-intensive-business-services (KIBS) and professional service firms (PSFs). Both communities have also shown a strong interest in knowledge and ‘knowledge bases’. Considering architecture to be based on symbolic and synthetic knowledge, and engineering to be based on analytical and synthetic knowledge, and using a panel dataset, this article examines the different geographies of performance among architecture practices and engineering consultancies active in the UK construction industry. We find that architecture practices are significantly more concentrated in inner London, whereas the engineering consultancies are much more dispersed. Locating in inner London provides significant financial benefits to architects but not to engineers. Ultimately, the various drivers of performance are rather different, with a Christallerian logic applying to architects but not to engineers. We consider that different knowledge bases are fundamental to understanding these differences between architects and engineers and KIBS/PSFs more generally.

Keywords: Knowledge bases; professional service firms; knowledge intensive business services; head-quarters location; spatial configuration; competitiveness; O31; L25

Journal Article.  15253 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behaviour

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