Case Study 1: The Melbourne Biotech Cluster
This case study is based on a close reading of the article:
• Michael Gilding, ‘The tyranny of distance’: Biotechnology networks and clusters in the
antipodes, Research Policy 37 (2008), 1132-1144.
1. Read the paper carefully. For the first part of the assignment you will need to think
about the various graphs that Gilding displays and their graph theoretic properties
2. The second part of the assignment is a short essay (one page maximum length –
typed, double-spaced 11 point font, using the word processor of your choice). Details
are given below.
Part 1: Graph Theory Concepts
This part of the case study is about reading the graphs. Several networks are shown and
discussed in the paper. My purpose in this section of the case study is to pick out some
illustrations of ideas we’ve discussed in class and also drawn from your textbook based on
formal graph theoretic concepts.
You are to provide examples from the paper where the following concepts appear. Briefly
state (1-3 sentences) why the graph in question illustrates the particular feature.
1. Are any of the graphs connected? If so, which one and explain why it is connected. If
not, which ones are not connected and pick one graph to argue why it’s not connected.
2. Recall the notion of a giant component of a graph (see Easley and Kleinberg page
27). Do any of the graphs have a giant component? NOTE: the definition of a giant
component is informal, so you have to make an argument about why it’s reasonable
to say one, or none, of the graphs has a giant component.
3. Gilding gives an explicit example of a vertex degree number in the paper. What is
that example? How is that number used in the paper? What point is being made?
4. When you look at the graphs shown in the article do you see any graphs where some
form of triadic closure might be operating? For example, are there examples of triadic
closure of the focal closure type? To answer this, you need to think about how thefocal triadic closure concept might operate in a case where the nodes are companies,
some for-profit, others not-for profit, or even government based organizations(e.g.universities).
5. Can you find any examples of bridges connecting Melbourne firms to firms outside the
Melbourne region, say in other parts of Australia? Here, I use the term bridges in the
same sense that Easley and Kleinberg use it.
A Very Short Essay
• One page, double-spaced, 11 point type. Use the word processor of your choice. Make
sure your name and the date is present at the top of the essay.
• Read the paper about the San Diego cluster on Oncourse as well as the Biocrossroads
report available their. Also, read Sheffi’s chapter.
• Many of the graphs shown in the paper display many nodes which do not have links
to any other nodes depending on the criterion used to determine whether or not a link
exists. Different graphs used different criteria for noting if connections exist, or not.
Suppose you were asked to consult with the city of Melbourne and the state of Victoria
about ways that government might assist growing the network connections. What
recommendations would you make to these authorities? You should limit yourself to 2
proposals that you think would be particularly effective. In each case, argue why
you think the proposal in question might be productive from the viewpoint
of increasing the connectivity within a particular graph. Draw on the readings
to support your proposals. For example, San Diego’s cluster has this feature
and it might work in Melbourne too and here’s why.
Note: You are advised that a good strategy is to make a proposal that
applies to a particular graph in the paper. Gilding’s network graphs are
drawn using different criteria for judging whether or not a connection exists
between two nodes. SO, it’s possible for two firms to have a connection by one
criterion, but not by another.
• I will grade this part of the assignment on the importance of the proposals. Are you
making a proposal that solves what appears to be a particularly important issue in
growing the cluster’s connectivity?
• I will also grade your writing style. Your essay must be well-written. The single page
constraint binds. Write and rewrite your essay to satisfy it.
• Please note: IF you submit proposals that are longer than one page, I will not grade
the second, or third, and so on, pages.
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