The Ambivalent Role of Mimetic Behaviors in Proximity Dynamics: Evidences on the French “Silicon Sentier”
This articles examines the peculiar role of mimetic behaviors in co-location processes. We start showing that geographical proximity between agents and/or firms is not a sufficient nor necessary condition for the collective performance of clusters. Other types of socio-economic proximities characterize clusters, and our purpose is to show that, among the several ways to analyze the complex links between proximities and clusters, the theoretical outlook on the role played by mimetic interactions in co-location processes are certainly one of the most promising. Mimetic behaviors of location (in economics and sociology) are introduced in order to demonstrate that co-location processes can be the result of sequentiality, uncertainty, legitimacy and non market interactions, rather than full rational and isolated decisions and pure strategic market interactions. According to the type of mimetic behavior at work in the clustering process, the nature of socio-economic proximity can differ and have a strong influence of the “evolutionary stability” of clusters. All these theoretical considerations are illustrated through the emblematic French case of “Silicon Sentier”, cluster which has gathered together three hundred firms of the French net-economy (the famous “dotcom”) during the Internet bubble swelling.
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