Visionary Revisionism

It’s long been held that one of the reasons why Silicon Valley-based companies have been so innovative is the free flow of talent in the area. But one of the major works supporting such thinking, Annalee Saxenian’s book Regional Advantage, was relatively light in quantitative analysis.

In a column yesterday by Virginia Postrel, it is suggested that even though Saxenian’s book wasn’t overly data driven, its contention is indeed true. A new study done by two Fed economists finds that people working in Silicon Valley do indeed change jobs more frequently than workers in other areas.

What’s even more interesting is that it might not just be the tendency toward migration that increases innovation — in the 19th century, California passed a law that made noncompete agreements unenforceable. So it’s not where you go that matters: It’s whether you’re able to use what you know.