Firm heterogeneity, productivity and spatially bounded knowledge externalities
In this paper, we argue that conceptually disentangling the 'context versus composition' aspects of regional growth is a multilevel issue. By applying multilevel models (also called random-effects models), we show (1) the importance of considering firm-specific characteristics simultaneously with region-specific characteristics, as we find that a large part of what is traditionally assigned to the impact of the region should be assigned to firm-specific characteristics and (2) that existing single-level methodologies can be problematic, as they are vulnerable to the charge of estimating significance levels that are too liberally assigned and promote exaggerations. This is illustrated empirically by showing that single-level approaches would lead to the conclusion that innovation spillovers are highly significant in a setting of Dutch urban growth differentials, while multilevel analyses shows less liberally assigned significance levels. We conclude that multilevel-effect models better fit research questions that combine firm and spatial characteristics simultaneously, especially because they allow firm-specific characteristics to be differently linked to their regional contexts.
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