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Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, with a New Preface by the Author

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Why is it that in the '90s, business in California's Silicon Valley flourished, while along Route 128 in Massachusetts it declined? The answer, Annalee Saxenian suggests, has to do with the fact that despite similar histories and technologies, Silicon Valley developed a decentralized but cooperative industrial system while Route 128 came to be dominated by independent, sel ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Harvard University Press (first published March 1st 1994)
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Frank Stein
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A well-done ethnographic study of the different cultures in the high-technology industry in Silicon Valley and the Boston region, coupled with a short history of each.

The Route 128 industry actually started first, after WWII, boosted by the power of MIT and its star pupil Vannevar Bush, who went into the federal government and managed to steer 1/3 of all scientific research contracts into MIT's businesses (how convenient). In 1946 MIT professors even created America's first venture capital compa
...more
TEELOCK Mithilesh
In her book Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 (1994), Saxenian proposes a hypothesis to explain why California's Silicon Valley was able to keep up with the fast pace of technological progress during the 1980s, while the vertically integrated firms of the Route 128 beltway fell behind. She argues that the key was Silicon Valley's decentralized organizational form, non-proprietary standards, and tradition of cooperative exchange (sharing information and o ...more
Adam Calhoun
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
As I sit in one of the largest concentration of biotech in the country - and probably the largest per capita - I wonder, how did this happen? Certainly there were competing centers that could have become these same hubs. In Regional Advantage, Saxenian sets out to answer this question for the computer and hardware industries. Why did Silicon Valley beat Route 128 so drastically? While she offers a few different arguments for the superiority of Silicon Valley, it's hard to disentangle what, preci ...more
JW
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: old-life
Read Frank Stein's excellent review for the gist. Some other thoughts:

Context:
in the US, the early 1990s saw the emergence of a new school of economic development research, arguing that factors such as regional culture and institutions, and the nature of local economic networks, were as predictive of local growth as the more traditional, quantifiable factors of size and # of firms, capital invested, output value, avg unit costs, etc. -- ie, all those clean and tidy measurables that you'd undou
...more
Kangning Huang
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: directed-reading
This book analyze the difference between Silicon Valley, CA and Route 128, MA. The author tries to answer why did Silicon Valley survived the recession and competition from Japanese competitors during 1980s, but Route 128 did not.

Silicon Valley:
"A regional network-based industry system that promotes collective learning and flexible adjustment among specialist producers of a complex of related technologies."
"Encourage horizontal communication among firm divisions and with outside suppliers and cu
...more
Akrabar
Aug 28, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Luis
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: san-francisco
This book is very useful to understanding the structural causes of Silicon Valley’s success, showing that it was increased interpersonal and intercorporate sharing that made Silicon Valley continue to succeed after the shocks of the ’80s hammered both Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 128. Definitely something I recommend to all newcomers to SF/the Valley.
Sarah
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Can be difficult to follow, but draws a clear distinction between the practices between the two regions that led to success in Silicon Valley and a slow down in Route 128.
Antonio Baclig
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting thesis on the cultural and institutional differences between Silicon Valley and the Greater Boston area that allowed the former to flourish.
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