The Geography of Corporate Directors: Personal Backgrounds, Firm and Regional Success
It has become commonplace for economic geographers to employ firm-level data in their assessments of competitiveness. Much less attention has been paid to individuals, the actual acquirers of knowledge relating to competitiveness, who then convey their know-how to the firm. This article addresses this limitation by analyzing a specific set of individuals who play a crucial role at the top of the business hierarchy: members of the boards of directors of the largest corporations in the United States. By analyzing where directors were born, where they attended university, and where they live, the intention of this article is to uncover regional groupings of directors that contribute to corporate culture and ultimately influence firm success. We place our results in the context of regional competitiveness with an American case study. Our findings illustrate how northeastern U.S. corporations have historically relied on high-level managers with personal histories in their same region. Given that institutions of the region are embedded in the decision-making process of managers, these firms risk becoming locked into past procedures. As a result, we argue that their ability to adapt is stifled, contributing to a lack of firm and regional success.
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