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

(details below).

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.