Dr. Pierre-Alexandre Balland

Associate Professor
Economic Geography
p.balland@uu.nl

In the age of information technology, it has never been easier to virtually connect with others at a distance. Yet, the world is not flat. Innovation continues to disproportionally concentrates in a few pockets. Ironically, the most famous example of this spatial concentration of innovative firms and individuals is Silicon Valley, home of the IT industry ! So what's the premium of proximity? What forms of proximity are we really talking about when looking at geographical concentration?

To tackle this question, I analyze what drives the transfer of knowledge between organizations. So my research mainly focuses on the structural and dynamic analysis of knowledge networks in a geographical context. I combine theories from economic geography with models and concepts from network science, which hopefully contributes to fill the gap between the lack of formalization of the network concept in economic geography and the lack of geography in network theory.

I have analyzed the structure and dynamics of knowledge networks in different industries and spatial settings such as the European R&D collaboration networks in the navigation by satellite industry, to the worldwide interfirm network in the video game industry, or the informal business and technical networks in a Spanish toy cluster.

At the moment, I am also involved in a NWO-funded project (Open Research Area scheme) in which we analyze the economic resilience of regions. We combine quantitative and qualitative methods to understand how regions can renew themselves over time and react to economic shocks and crisis by looking at their industrial structure, the internal and external knowledge exchanges and specific institutional settings.