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Industry structure, entrepreneurship, and culture: An empirical analysis using historical coalfields

Stuetzer, Michael and Obschonka, Martin and Audretsch, David B. and Wyrwich, Michael and Rentfrow, Peter J. and Coombes, Mike and Shaw-Taylor, Leigh and Satchell, Max (2015): Industry structure, entrepreneurship, and culture: An empirical analysis using historical coalfields. Forthcoming in: European Economic Review

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Abstract

There is mounting evidence demonstrating that entrepreneurship is spatially clustered and that these spatial differences are quite persistent over long periods of time. However, especially the sources of that persistence are not yet well-understood, and it is largely unclear whether persistent differences in entrepreneurship are reflected in differences in entrepreneurship culture across space as it is often argued in the literature. We approach the cluster phenomenon by theorizing that a historically high regional presence of large-scale firms negatively affects entrepreneurship, due to low levels of human capital and entrepreneurial skills, fewer opportunities for entry and entrepreneurship inhibiting formal and informal institutions. These effects can become self-perpetuating over time, ultimately resulting in persistent low levels of entrepreneurship activity and entrepreneurship culture. Using data from Great Britain, we analyze this long-term imprinting effect by using the distance to coalfields as an exogenous instrument for the regional presence of large-scale industries. IV regressions show that British regions with high employment shares of large-scale industries in the 19th century, due to spatial proximity to coalfields, have lower entrepreneurship rates and weaker entrepreneurship culture today. We control for an array of competing hypotheses like agglomeration forces, the regional knowledge stock, climate, and soil quality. Our main results are robust with respect to inclusion of these control variables and various other modifications which demonstrates the credibility of our empirical identification strategy. A mediation analysis reveals that a substantial part of the impact of large-scale industries on entrepreneurship is through human capital.

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