Evolutionary agglomeration theory: increasing returns, diminishing returns, and the industry life cycle

Antony Potter, H. Doug Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

According to Marshall’s agglomeration theory, Krugman’s New Economic Geography models, and Porter’s cluster policies, firms should receive increasing returns from a trinity of agglomeration economies: a local pool of skilled labour, local supplier linkages, and local knowledge spillovers. Recent evolutionary theories suggest that whether agglomeration economies generate increasing returns or diminishing returns depends on time, and especially the evolution of the industry life cycle. At the start of the twenty-first century, we re-examine Marshall’s trinity of agglomeration economies in the city-region where he discovered them. The econometric results from our multivariate regression models are the polar opposite of Marshall’s. During the later stages of the industry life cycle, Marshall’s agglomeration economies decrease the economic performance of firms and create widespread diminishing returns for the economic development of the city-region, which has evolved to become one of the poorest city-regions in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberlbq004
Pages (from-to)417-455
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Volume11(3)
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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