Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre - Doctoral Theses

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    An analysis of firm dynamics and seedbed role
    (University College Cork, 2023) O'Leary, Daragh; Power, Bernadette; Doran, Justin; Irish Research Council
    Firm dynamics research can be considered an important area of study given the relationship between firm dynamics and economic growth. Firm births can increase economic growth and employment (Doran et al., 2016). Meanwhile firm deaths can reduce economic growth via increases in unemployment (Arcuri et al., 2019). However, firm deaths can also reallocate resources and create market room within the economy for other firms (Carree and Dejardin, 2020). Additionally, the post-entry growth of firms is an important aspect of firm dynamics for economic growth because most of the growth derived from entrepreneurship comes from a very small number of high-performing firms (Shane, 2009). As such, some have recommended the prioritising of investment into firms with fast-growth potential to achieve optimal economic growth (Du and Vanino, 2021). The importance of firm dynamics to economic growth is such that government organisations and policymakers look to promote entrepreneurship to achieve economic growth (BE, 2020; EU, 2021). Therefore, research concerning the birth, death, and performance of firms can be considered of interest to governments and policymakers as well as the academic literature. This Thesis looks to contribute to the small firm dynamics literature (Hopenhayn, 1992). Using Eurostat, OECD, and Irish Central Statistics Office data, econometric analysis is used to produce four empirical research papers which examine firm interrelationships, the regional determinants of firm births and deaths, and how the seedbed role influences the performance of new start-ups. This analysis provides several contributions to the literature. Firstly, the competition and multiplier effects set out by Johnson and Parker (1994) are examined and particular interest is paid to analysing these effects across different countries and over different periods of time. Secondly, the role of urbanisation and localisation economies as well as externalities related to regional diversification are examined in determining firm births and deaths across different countries while controlling for the mitigating effect of firm interrelationships. Thirdly, the role of relatedness is incorporated into firm interrelationships to see how competition and multiplier effects operate across different sectors (related and unrelated). Finally, a contribution is made to the literature concerning seedbed role, described by Beesley and Hamilton (1984), by analysing the influence of the seedbed process on the post-entry performance of new Irish firms. The findings of the analyses on firm interrelationships indicate that firm interrelationships can change across time and sectors. Evidence of the multiplier is observed over one year where firm births appear to increase firm births the following year. However, over two and three years, evidence for the competition effect is found whereby firm births can increase firm deaths in two- and three-years’ time and that firm deaths can increase firm births in two years’ time. Furthermore, multiplier effects appear more likely to occur between firms in related sectors and competition effects appear more likely to occur between firms in unrelated sectors. Significant variations in firm birth and death rates are also observed across countries. Findings regarding regional factors as determinants of firm births and deaths indicate that both urbanisation and localisation economies increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Related variety appears to reduce firm births and increase firm deaths, while unrelated variety is found to increase firm births and decrease firm deaths. Finally, the seedbed process is shown to influence the growth of new Irish start-ups as firms set up by individuals who previously worked at firms which died are themselves more likely to die and more likely to have lower mean annual employment growth during their existence. However, they are also more likely to exhibit fast-firm growth at some point during their existence. Implications for policy and contributions for the literature are discussed in the Thesis.
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    Urban sprawl: land-use, travel behaviours, and emissions in Ireland
    (University College Cork, 2023) O'Driscoll, Conor; Doran, Justin; Crowley, Frank; McCarthy, Noirin
    Land-use configurations determine the distribution and intensities of human activities across space while transport infrastructure determines the ability of goods, services, and people to travel across this space. Considering this relationship, it is important to understand how these mechanisms interact, but also how they can contribute to efforts to achieve sustainability in regional development while also positively benefitting local economies and social fabrics. By directly influencing regional time-space geographies, land-use configurations influence the efficiency with which finite resources, like land, are used while also defining local and regional connectivity, considerations which are directly related to economic, environmental, and social outcomes. In this regard, land-use developments in the Republic of Ireland have historically been characterised by urban sprawl, a developmental form which creates spatially segregated human settlements characterised by car-centric transport networks. Evidence suggests that these patterns inefficiently (and therefore unsustainably) use natural resources, like land, but also increase regional time-space geographies, characteristics known to influence economic, environmental, and social outcomes for individuals, households, and regions. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), econometric techniques, and network analysis methods, this research investigates the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of regional development across Ireland and Europe. Using refined built and social environment data, nationally comprehensive Census data, and highly disaggregated spatial scales, this thesis provides substantial contributions to regional science by undertaking six empirical analyses. These investigations focus on four principal research questions, namely: 1) How do land-use configurations contribute to efforts to achieve sustainability in regional development across Ireland and Europe? 2) Can the incorporation of opensource data improve our understanding of land-use configurations and their ability to contribute to sustainability efforts? 3) What is the relationship between built and social environments, individual socio-demographics, trip-specific concerns, and travel mode choices when commuting and during school-runs? 4) How do land-use configurations and transport infrastructure provision impact the environmental degradation attributable to travelling when shopping? From a land-use perspective, I show that regions which minimise time-space geographies and incorporate higher levels of land-use mixing utilise land, infrastructure, and natural resources, like space, more efficiently than alternative regions. This is because more people and human activities are accommodated within smaller spatial scales, thereby reducing the spatial extents of developments, and by extension, the levels of natural landscape destruction attributable to human settlements. In addition to this, more compact developmental forms face lower development costs, increased market/amenity accessibility, and strengthened social fabrics – producing positive economic and social outcomes. From a transport perspective, these areas reduce the implicit costs associated with regular public and active transport use by reducing required travel times and distances, heightening the competitiveness and convenience associated with these modes. I argue that these characteristics positively contribute to altering regional transport hierarchies away from excessive car-use, and therefore prompt reductions in travel-related environmental degradation. I conclude this research by highlighting how land-use and transport policies can be coordinated around environmental goals whilst not compromising economic and social objectives within regional development. In this regard, I provide specific policymaking recommendations surrounding the use of these instruments to increase the efficiency and sustainability of land-use configurations while also catalysing shifts away from excessive car-use in favour of more sustainable alternatives. Of these, the principal recommendation is that future developmental proposals should prioritise maximizing the efficiency of existing man-made settlements and infrastructure prior to outward expansion. In urban areas, this relates to prioritising greater land-use mixing and vertical expansion, while in rural areas, this more so relates to reducing time-space geographies through multi-modal transport investment, initiatives which may stimulate the emergence of polycentric developmental patterns. Similarly, initiatives which alter regional transport hierarchies by reducing the implicit costs of public and active transport relative to cars are recommended. I end by highlighting the limitations of this work while also providing directions for future research.