European Spatial Research and Policy

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8530-4542 Schutjens Veronique

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9904-5182 Kruger Maarten


Subject literature assumes that spatial proximity stimulates collaboration in thematic clusters. However, even in micro-scale settings, resource exchange is rare or entails only tangible resources. We empirically unravel how specific proximity indicators relate to the types of resources exchanged in incubatees’ business relationships. Based on 118 business relationships of incubatees, we conclude that on the micro-scale of an incubator, site proximity to another incubatee has a limited relation and geographical proximity to business partners outside the incubator has no relation to the types of resources exchanged. For the latter business relationships, personal similarity positively relates to the exchange of specific business knowledge resources.


types of resources exchanged, business relationships, spatial proximity, personal similarity, university business incubator




AGRAWAL, A., KAPUR, D. and MCHALE, J. (2008), ‘How do spatial and social proximity influence knowledge flows? Evidence from patent data’, Journal of Urban Economics, 64 (2), pp. 258–269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jue.2008.01.003

AHMAD, A. (2014), ‘A mechanisms-driven theory of business incubation’, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 20, pp. 375–405. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-11-2012-0133

BEHRENS, J., PATZELT, H., SCHWEIZER, L. and BÜRGER, R. (2012), ‘Specific managerial human capital, firm age, and venture capital financing of biopharmaceutical ventures: A contingency approach’, The Journal of High Technology Management Research, 23 (2), pp. 112–121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hitech.2012.06.003

BEUGELSDIJK, S. and MUDAMBI, R. (2013), ‘MNEs as border-crossing multi-location enterprises: The role of discontinuities in geographic space’, Journal of International Business Studies, 44 (5), pp. 412–426. https://doi.org/10.1057/jibs.2013.23

BIOPARTNER CENTER LEIDEN (n.d.), Retrieved 26 February 2013, from http://www.biopartnerleiden.nl

BLISSON, D. and RANA, B.K. (2001), ‘The role of entrepreneurial networks: the influence of gender and ethnicity in British SMEs’, Paper presented at the 46th ICSB World Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, June. Available at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

BOSCHMA, R. (2005), ‘Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment’, Regional Studies, 39 (1), pp. 61–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/0034340052000320887

BRYMAN, A. (2012), Social research methods, New York: Oxford University Press.

BUYS, A.J. and MBEWANA, P.N. (2007), ‘Key success factors for business incubation in South Africa: the Godisa case study’, South African Journal of Science, 103 (9–10), pp. 356–358.

BYGRAVE, W. (1988), ‘The structure of the investment networks of venture capital firms’, Journal of Business Venturing, 3 (2), pp. 137–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/0883-9026(88)90023-7

CANIËLS, M.C.J., KRONENBERG, K. and WERKER, C.W. (2014), ‘Conceptualizing Proximity in Research Collaborations’, [in:] RUTTEN, R.P.J.H., BENNEWORTH, P., IRAWATI, D. and BOEKEMA, F. (eds.), The Social Dynamics on Innovation Networks, From Learning Region to Learning in Socio-Spatial Context, London and New York: Routledge.

CAPDEVILA, I. (2015), ‘Co-working spaces and the localized dynamics of innovation in Barcelona’, International Journal of Innovation Management, 19 (03), pp. 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1142/S1363919615400046

COOPER, E., HAMEL, S. and CONNAUGHTON, S. (2012), ‘Motivations and Obstacles to Networking in a University Business Incubator’, The Journal of Technology Transfer, 37 (4), pp. 433–453. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-010-9189-0

CZARNITZKI, D. and HOTTENROTT, H. (2011), ‘R&D investment and financing constraints of small and medium-sized firms’, Small Business Economics, 36 (1), pp. 65–83. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-009-9189-3

D’ESTE, P., GUY, F. and IAMMARINO, S. (2012), ‘Shaping the formation of university–industry research collaborations: what type of proximity does really matter?’ Journal of Economic Geography, 13 (4), pp. 537–558. https://doi.org/10.1093/jeg/lbs010

EISENHARDT, K.M. and SCHOONHOVEN, C.B. (1996), ‘Resource-based view of strategic alliance formation: Strategic and social effects in entrepreneurial firms’, Organization Science, 7 (2), pp. 136–150. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.7.2.136

EVELEENS, C.P., VAN RIJNSOEVER, F.J. and NIESTEN, E.M.M.I. (2017), ‘How network-based incubation helps start-up performance: a systematic review against the background of management theories’, Journal of Technological Transfer, 42, pp. 676–713. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-016-9510-7

FREEMAN, J., CARROLL, G.R. and HANNAN, M. (1983), ‘The Liability of Newness: Age Dependence in Organizational Death Rates’, American Sociological Review, 48 (5), pp. 692–710. https://doi.org/10.2307/2094928

FUZI, A. (2015), ‘Co-working spaces for promoting entrepreneurship in sparse regions: the case of South Wales’, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 2 (1), pp. 462–469. https://doi.org/10.1080/21681376.2015.1072053

GRANOVETTER, M. (1985), ‘Economic action and social structure: The problem of embeddedness’, American journal of sociology, 91 (3), pp. 481–510. https://doi.org/10.1086/228311

HACKETT, S. and DILTS, D. (2004), ‘A Systematic Review of Business Incubation Research’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, pp. 55–82. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOTT.0000011181.11952.0f

HARRISON, B. (2007), ‘Industrial Districts: Old Wine in New Bottles?’ (Volume 26, Number 5, 1992), Regional Studies, 41, pp. S107–S121. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343400701232264

JAFFE, A.B., TRAJTENBERG, M. and HENDERSON, R. (1993), ‘Geographic localization of knowledge spillovers as evidenced by patent citations’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108 (3), pp. 577–598. https://doi.org/10.2307/2118401

KATZ, B., VEY, J.S. and WAGNER, J. (2015), One year after: Observations on the rise of innovation district, Brookings, 24 June 2015, https://www.brookings.edu/research/one-year-after-observations-on-the-rise-of-innovation-districts/.

KRUGER, M. (2013), Ego-Alter Networks in University Business Incubators: The Case of BioPartner Center Leiden, Master Thesis Economic Geography, Utrecht University.

MASON, J.K., OSHRI, I. and LEEK, S. (2012), ‘Shared learning in supply networks: evidence from an emerging market supply network’, European Journal of Marketing, 46 (11), pp. 1743–1762. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090561211260077

MASSARO, M., MORO, A., ASCHAUER, E. and FINK, M. (2019), ‘Trust, control and knowledge transfer in small business networks’, Review in Managerial Science, 13, pp. 267–301. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11846-017-0247-y

MCADAM, M. and MCADAM, R. (2006), ‘The networked incubator: The role and operation of entrepreneurial networking with the university science park incubator (USI)’, The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 7 (2), pp. 87–97. https://doi.org/10.5367/000000006776928663

MCADAM, M. and MARLOW, S. (2008), ‘A Preliminary Investigation into Networking Activities within the University Incubator’, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 14 (4), pp. 219–241. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550810887390

MCADAM, M., GALBRAITH, B., MCADAM, R. and HUMPHREYS, P. (2006), ‘Business Processes and Networks in University Incubators: A Review and Research Agendas’, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 18 (5), pp. 451–472. https://doi.org/10.1080/09537320601019578

MCCANN, B. and FOLTA, T. (2011), ‘Performance differentials within geographic clusters’, Journal of Business Venturing, 26 (1), pp. 104–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2009.04.004

MCPHERSON, M., SMITH-LOVIN, L. and COOK, J.M. (2001), ‘Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks’, Annual Review of Sociology, 27, pp. 415–444. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415

MICEK, G. (2019), ‘Geographical Proximity Paradox Revisited: The Case of IT Service SMEs in Poland’, Sustainability, 11 (20), p. 5570. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205770

MOZUMDAR, L., HAGELAAR, G., MATERIA, V.C., OMTA, W.W.F., ISLAM, M.A. and VAN DER VELDE, G. (2019), ‘Embeddedness or over-embeddedness? Women Entrepreneurs’ Networks and Their Influence on Business Performance’, The European Journal of Development Research, 31, pp. 1449–1469. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-019-00217-3

PARRINO, L. (2015), ‘Coworking: Assessing the Role of Proximity in Knowledge Exchange’, Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 13 (3), pp. 261–271. https://doi.org/10.1057/kmrp.2013.47

PETERS, L., RICE, M. and SUNDARARAJAN, M. (2004), ‘The role of Incubators in the Entrepreneurial Process’, Journal of Technology Transfer, 29, pp. 83–91. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOTT.0000011182.82350.df

POLANYI, M. (1958), Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.

REDONDO-CARRETO, M. and CAMARERO-IZQUIERDO, C. (2017), ‘Relationships between Entrepreneurs in Business Incubators. An exploratory case study’, Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, 24 (1), pp. 57–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/1051712X.2016.1275826

SMITH, J. and POWELL (2004), ‘Knowledge Networks as Channels and Conduits: The Effects of Spillovers in the Boston Biotechnology Community’, Organization Science, 15 (1), pp. 5–21. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1030.0054

SNEL, D. and BRUINS, A. (2004), Oudere versus jongere starters, EIM, Onderzoek voor Bedrijf & Beleid. Available at http://ondernemerschap.panteia.nl/pdf-ez/a200410.pdf

SOETANTO, D. and JACK, S. (2011), ‘Business incubators and the networks of technology-based firms’, The Journal of Technology Transfer, 38 (4), pp 432–453. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-011-9237-4

SØRHEIM, R. (2003), ‘The pre-investment behaviour of business angels: a social capital approach’, Venture Capital, 5 (4), pp. 337–364. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369106032000152443

TORRE, A. and RALLET, A. (2005), ‘Proximity and localization’, Regional studies, 39 (1), pp. 47–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/0034340052000320842

USMAN, M., AHMAD, M.I. and BURGOYNE, J. (2019), ‘Individual and organizational learning from inter-firm knowledge sharing: a framework integrating inter-firm and intra-firm knowledge sharing and learning’, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 26, pp. 484–497.

VAN DER GAAG, M.P.J. (2005), Measurement of individual social capital, Groningen, University of Groningen.

VAN RIJNSOEVER, F.J., VAN WEELE, M.A. and EVELEENS, C.P. (2017), ‘Network brokers or hit makers? Analyzing the influence of incubation on start-ups investments’, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 13 (2), pp. 605–629. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11365-016-0416-5

VERBRUGGE, L.M. (1977), ‘The structure of adult friendship choice’, Social Forces, 56, pp. 577–597. https://doi.org/10.2307/2577741

VERHEUL, I. and THURIK, R. (2001), ‘Start-up capital: «does gender matter?»’, Small Business Economics, 16 (4), pp. 329–346. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011178629240

VISSA, B. (2010), ‘A Matching Theory of Entrepreneurs’ Tie Formation Intentions and Initiation of Economic Exchange’, INSEAD Working Paper No. 2010/06/EFE. Available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=1550086. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1550086

WILLIAMSON, O.E. (1958), The economic institutions of capitalism, New York, New York: Free Press.

ZENG, Y., LIU, J. and GEORGE, G. (2010), ‘The dynamic impact of innovative capability and inter-firm network on firm valuation: A longitudinal study of biotechnology start-ups’, Journal of Business Venturing, 25 (6), pp. 593–609. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2009.02.001

ZHANG, J. (2011), ‘The advantage of experienced start-up founders in venture capital acquisition: evidence from serial entrepreneurs’, Small Business Economics, 36 (2), pp. 187–208. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-009-9216-4

First Page


Last Page