1999-2002

Network Study of Silicon Valley

Researchers

Mark Granovetter
Principal Investigator

Though there is near-universal agreement that the most crucial aspect of Silicon Valley is its networks, there has been virtually no systematic study of these networks. This has been in part because of the difficulty of charting networks in an entire industry or industrial district, especially over time. In an earlier study, PI Granovetter, along with various collaborators, developed new methods to study the networks in the American electricity industry from its origins in the early 1880s to the middle 1920s. By following such networks over time, and tracking the evolution of such quantities as centrality for key individuals, they were able to achieve new insight as to how the technology and organizational forms changed as they did.

The Silicon Valley Networks study will proceed along similar lines, with the advantage of being able to fill in key missing information from living individuals. A first step is to construct a series of network snapshots will be constructed, at intervals of perhaps five years, as for electricity. A key step will be to track the affiliations of principals, as they shift among companies. Attempts will be made to track failures as well as successes. Structures of relations among firms will be mapped, as given by genealogies of firm origin, and by interchange of personnel. The previous network location of entrepreneurs will be studied in relation to their success or failure. The networks of supporting institutions such as financial, legal, educational and governmental advisers will be mapped and their articulation with technical networks will be studied. Special emphasis will be placed on the growing international connections that are vital for the continuing dynamism of Silicon Valley.

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