Technical Advisory Committee at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Karl is a Managing Partner of Material Growth Partners, LLC, a firm focused on working with both new product
developers and the investment community in commercializing new technologies.
Throughout Karl’s time at the Temple SBDC, he has advised numerous successful business start-ups and provided insightful one-on-one business consulting and advice for many entrepreneurs seeking help with their business endeavors. He has had a great deal of experience working in multiple industries such as pharmaceuticals, air pollution control, textiles, and industrial equipment.
Below, Karl discusses his experience as a consultant as well as provides meaningful advice for individuals interested in learning or expanding their skills as an entrepreneur.
What areas do you specialize in?
I specialize in business strategy, marketing strategy, technology commercialization, manufacturing, and science & technology. I work with companies specializing in areas of manufacturing technology commercialization and bringing new technologies to market.
What is your favorite aspect of working as a consultant?
My favorite aspect of working as a consultant is learning about unique business ideas and all the different markets as well as the satisfaction about helping clients and enjoying the clients’ success.
What did you study in college? Do I need a college degree to start my business?
I obtained a MBA in International Business and received a B.S. in Chemistry.
And, No – just ask Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, Russell Simmons, or Michael Dell. There are examples of successful entrepreneurs as young as 14 years old. Formal education and age have never been a barrier to starting a business.
Were there any obstacles you had to overcome when you entered the consulting/entrepreneurial world?
Yes – When I started Material Growth Partners, I had to figure everything out on my own. I didn’t know that the SBDC even existed! I had to build my professional network of people in order to get the word out and establish the company in the region.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in starting a business?
Realizing how much time is required to start-up and run a business, and financial issues such as a variability in week-to-week/month-to-month income and having enough funding not only to start the business but to support the growth of the business.
What are some common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when starting a business?
Some of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs making when starting their business is insufficient planning, not vetting their business concept and revenue model with an experienced entrepreneur or advisor, and not dedicating their full efforts to their business.
What was the unique business idea you have worked on?
The most unique business I have worked with created a collapsible bike helmet to encourage bicycle commuters to protect themselves: Kova Helmet Website. Not only was this entrepreneur mission-driven to promote safety, but she also had to learn how to develop and fund a new-to-the-world product and utilize her network to get the assistance she needed to make her vision a reality.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Know what you are selling
Know who you are targeting as customers
Understand why they would buy what you’re selling rather than other solutions for their problem/need
Determine how you will make money selling it
In everything, double the amount of time you think it will take
Thanks to Karl for speaking with us and offering his guidance to the businesses who come to the SBDC. If you would like to set up a (free!) appointment with Karl or one of our other business consultants, please sign up here.
Entrepreneurship at Temple is going campus-wide—and the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA) is at the helm of this effort. The Academy, formed in 2015 in partnership with the President’s office, works to educate faculty on incorporating entrepreneurship into their curriculum, and runs workshops and events on campus to support students who aspire to be entrepreneurial in their careers. So far, the effects have been far-reaching. In three years, TUEA has run more than a dozen programs, reached thousands of students, and created key partnerships in schools like the Tyler School of Art, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
“TUEA works together with faculty across campus with the ultimate mission of enabling students to make an impact and create their own success,” says Professor Alan Kerzner, who is Director of TUEA. “Our programs teach students how to follow their passion and make a living at the same time.”
One of the Academy’s most recent and impactful efforts happened over the past year in partnership with the Intellectual Heritage (IH) program, now in its fifth decade as part of the core curriculum at CLA and a key part of the University’s General Education program, meaning undergraduate students from all of Temple’s schools and colleges enroll in the course. IH courses guide students through the “great texts”—some of the most famous and influential political, social, and scientific works ever written—and ask them to apply the principles from these works to contemporary societal issues. No small feat, although an important one for sure.
But what does it have to do with entrepreneurship?
“Despite common perceptions,” says Professor Robert McNamee, Managing Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute at Temple University and head of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship academic programs at the Fox School of Business, “entrepreneurship is not just about starting your own business or getting rich quick. In fact, entrepreneurship is aligned in many ways with what the Intellectual Heritage program is teaching, especially when it comes to doing good for society. Entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation—these can all be harnessed to create solutions to real-world problems. Solutions that can that can ultimately lead to real change.”
During the 2016-2017 school year, TUEA and CLA partnered on a program around Social Entrepreneurship that saw an overwhelmingly positive reaction from students. Knowing it was important to continue supporting this audience, Professors Kerzner and McNamee worked together with CLA leadership and Dana Dawson, Associate Director of Temple’s GenEd program, to identify new ways to reach students wanting to use entrepreneurial thinking to make the world a better place.
“We knew working with the IH program would be a unique opportunity,” said Professor McNamee. “The GenEd program at Temple University reaches so many students, and we knew this partnership could be really impactful.”
The plan was to incorporate creative problem solving techniques into the Intellectual Heritage II course. Titled “The Common Good,” this course asks students to consider issues like the balance between individual liberty and the public good and how power and privilege define one’s capacity to make change. The goal? To harness the critical thinking skills the students were practicing and turn their ideas into actionable solutions that could solve the problems they were identifying.
“We learned from IH faculty that students were understanding the issues, but sometimes becoming disheartened by their enormity,” said Professor Kerzner. “They were finding it difficult to identify ways to really address problems this big, this complicated.”
That’s where entrepreneurial thinking and creative problem solving came in. Using these practices, students were taught to shift their thinking so that it was solution-focused. They took time to really understand the problem at hand, and to identify aspects of it that were addressable. Professor Kerzner guest lectured at some class sessions, and students got to work coming up with solutions. Throughout the course, students were given the opportunity to attend workshops that helped them break down problems and develop their ideas for addressing them, and each semester culminated in a pitch competition, where students presented the problems they were studying and their planned solutions.
Intellectual Heritage professor Naomi Taback saw a change in the way her students were feeling. “I saw students,” she said, “Even ones who were often quiet in class, become animated, passionate, and enthusiastic about their ideas and solutions.”
“Many, many students at Temple, regardless of which college they are in, want to make a difference,” added CLA Dean Richard Deeg. “They want to make the world a better place, even in a small way. The collaboration between the Entrepreneurship Academy and Intellectual Heritages exposes a large number of students to practical techniques for turning their passion into action and tangible results.”
Inciting this passion in students, and helping faculty across campus to do it, too, is the heart of TUEA’s mission. With more than 6000 students enrolled in the IH program each semester, this partnership has potential to spread the entrepreneurial spirit on campus in a big way. The initial pilot program expanded from two to seventeen course sections of Intellectual Heritage II between fall 2017 and spring 2018. The program is expected to launch in more than twenty sections this coming fall.
“TUEA resources and expertise have enhanced GenEd courses by connecting classroom- based learning with action,” says Dana Dawson. Under Dana’s guidance, faculty teaching other GenEd courses have reached out to TUEA, and both professors Kerzner and McNamee see high potential for TUEA to expand their work with the GenEd program in the future.
This spring, TUEA was the recipient of the Fox School of Business IMPACT Award, which recognizes high-impact group achievements that define our community, move the school forward, and serve as a role model for others. If the success of the partnership with IH is any indication, this is just the beginning of TUEA’s cross-campus influence.
Fox School of Business Professor Dr. Ram Mudambi and his team of researchers received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to host the First International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation (iBEGIN) Conference at the Fox School. It was preceded by workshops in 2013 and 2014.
The two-day conference, held Nov. 13-14 at Fox’s Alter Hall, was sponsored by the NSF, with support from Temple’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the Fox School Institute for Global Management Studies. It was aimed, Mudambi said, toward using research from his team’s iBEGIN initiatives as the foundation for a long-lasting research community focused on the intersection of the three fields of international business, economic geography, and technology/innovation studies.
“In a very deep sense, all society is based upon human connections. We’re social animals,” said Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management and Perelman Senior Research Fellow at Fox. “This conference applied that theory to the sphere, and business and economics. We developed the concept that the human experience is built on human socialization, and use it to understand how connections across space create value.”
The conference featured three keynote speakers, who addressed attendees Nov. 14 in an open-to-the-public setting. The keynotes included:
- Dr. John Cantwell, Rutgers University, Distinguished Professor of Management and Global Business, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Business Studies
- Dr. Harald Bathelt, University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair Professor in Innovation and Governance, and editor of Journal of Economic Geography
- Dr. Mark Lorenzen, Copenhagen Business School, Professor of Innovation and Organizational Economics, and Director of the Danish Research Unit of Industrial Dynamics (DRUID)
“These three keynote speakers have been great supporters of our iBEGIN work, and I could not have been more delighted to host them,” Mudambi said. “John is the editor of the top international business journal, Harald is the editor of the top economic geography journal, and Mark is the director of DRUID, one of the world’s largest research networks in innovation studies. To have them under one roof at one conference was a truly unique opportunity.”
The iBEGIN Conference is being promoted as part of GlobalPhilly 2015, a two-month international exposition, featuring events geared toward the promotion of international arts, commerce, education, heritage, and more in Philadelphia. Mudambi said papers were submitted to the conference from all over the world, including from: Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States government, the United States Federal Reserve, and more.
Mudambi’s ongoing iBEGIN initiative is a collaborative effort with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, Henley Business School at the University of Reading (UK), and many others.
The next research project on the horizon for Mudambi and his globally dispersed research team involves battery power, a progression of yet another long-running iBEGIN segment on renewable energy and sustainability. The team has documented the important role that emerging economies like China and India are playing in the innovative landscape of the wind turbine industry, but batteries are the key to unlocking the potential of these renewable energy technologies.
“Batteries are the steam engine of our age,” Mudambi said. “We have ways to produce energy, but we have no way to harness it and store it. Today, if we had to run our planet on stored battery power, we could run perhaps 1 percent of our power applications. Imagine if you could run the whole planet on batteries. It’s a problem that, once solved, will revolutionize society.”
–Christopher A. Vito
Innovation in the United States is not lacking. It’s just that patents are being registered in less-likely locales, according to researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
The findings are part of an ongoing research initiative spearheaded by Dr. Ram Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management.
The umbrella project is dubbed iBEGIN, or International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation. A segment of the project explores innovation hubs in the United States, undertaking detailed analyses of more than 900 metropolitan areas in the U.S. In one of the first published outcomes of this research effort, Mudambi and his team examined the evolution of Detroit, a mainstay of the global automotive industry for over a century. While Detroit, a downtrodden city, continues to experience manufacturing decline, it is doing well as an innovation center, he said.
“The beauty of innovation is that it never stops,” Mudambi said. “In 1960, the U.S. was the richest country in the world, and Detroit was its richest city. And while the city has been in a continuous state of decline, we found that Detroit’s innovation numbers are very healthy.”
iBEGIN researchers define innovation through patent output, and they say Detroit’s patent output since 1975 has grown at a rate of almost twice the U.S. average. Detroit’s innovative resilience, Mudambi said, is due to its continuing centrality in global innovation networks in the automotive industry. It has maintained this centrality through connectedness to other worldwide centers of excellence in this industry, such as Germany and Japan. Its innovative links to Germany have been rising steadily over the last three decades, while its association with Japan began more recently, but also shows a steep upward trajectory.
Their research also unearthed a clearer picture of the shifting lines of American innovation. Today, Mudambi said, the Sun Belt features the country’s leading innovation hubs like San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Austin, Texas. Though the more traditional centers of innovation excellence in the Rust Belt cities have generally maintained healthy rates of innovation output, they have seen their shares of national innovative output decline. These include cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago.
“In the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, the innovation hotspots were co-located with centers of manufacturing mass production,” Mudambi said. “These were concentrated in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. That’s not the case anymore. We’re seeing the lion’s share of patents being registered in regions dominated by high-knowledge industries. These industries create mainly white-collar positions for people with a bachelor’s degree, at minimum.
“However, what Detroit’s innovative success says about economies everywhere is that the roots of innovation are very deep. Policymakers spend a lot of time worrying about manufacturing. But manufacturing can be very ephemeral and firms often relocate manufacturing plants with very little notice. Innovation is more deeply rooted and, once an innovation center roots itself in an area, it’s much more likely to stick.”
Mudambi said the ongoing iBEGIN research initiative is a collaborative effort, with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, and many others.
In addition to studying innovation in American cities, iBEGIN has ongoing research exploring other contexts. These include country contexts like China, India, Brazil, Portugal, Greece and Korea as well as specialized industry contexts like automobiles, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Seok-Woo Kwon, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, has been appointed to a three-year term as a member of the entrepreneurship research committee of the Academy of Management (AOM).
Founded in 1936, the AOM is the preeminent professional association for management and organization scholars. Its membership spans 20,000 members in 115 countries.
“The organization sponsors many interesting sessions that can enable and advance future research. I am very honored to be invited to the group,” Kwon said of the opportunity.
In 2012, Kwon received the Academy of Management Review’s 2012 Decade Award, one of the discipline’s most-prestigious awards, which recognizes the most-influential AMR research paper of the last 10 years, for his 2002 work, “Social Capital: Prospects for a New Concept.”
Kwon, who joined the Fox School of Business in 2012, instructs Organizations and Management Theory, a core course at the PhD level, and teaches Managing Knowledge Networks at the MBA level. Prior to his arrival at Temple, Kwon earned his PhD in Management and Organization from the University of Southern California, where he also attained his Master’s degree in Communication Management from the university’s Annenberg School for Communication. Previously, Kwon received his Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and his Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology from the University of Michigan.
Entrepreneur magazine ranked the graduate programs at Temple University’s Fox School of Business No. 1 in the nation for entrepreneurial mentorship.
The report, published Sept. 15 in conjunction with The Princeton Review, identified Temple as offering the highest number of mentorship programs for graduate entrepreneurship students.
“This is a remarkable honor and sterling achievement,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “By emphasizing innovation, promoting small-business development, and preparing our students to think of themselves as entrepreneurs, we continue to drive economic growth and job creation in the Philadelphia region and beyond. We are proud to be recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as the nation’s top institution for entrepreneurial mentorship.”
Through the IEI, which is based at the Fox School, the university conducts annual Idea and Be Your Own Boss Bowl® business plan competitions for all students, faculty, staff and alumni. With prizes exceeding $200,000, the Be Your Own Boss Bowl® is considered one of the most-lucrative and comprehensive business plan competitions in the nation.
IEI also operates Mid-Atlantic Diamond Ventures (MADV), the region’s largest entrepreneurship advisory and year-round venture forum program. Since 2003, MADV has worked with 328 innovation-based emerging firms in the region to raise more than $250 million in Series A funding.
The Fox School and IEI provide internship opportunities, business-planning workshops, seminars, mentoring and coaching, in addition to annual conferences in social, global, women’s and industry-specific entrepreneurship. IEI Executive Director Ellen Weber and Academic Director Robert McNamee lead the entrepreneurship and innovation programs.
The ranking praises IEI for its one-on-one meetings between students and entrepreneurs, senior executives and investors from the region, and calls attention to IEI’s Distinguished Leaders in Residence consultation program.
Over the last three years the IEI has expanded its offerings to include: a Master of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship; graduate certificates in both Innovation Strategy and Innovation & Technology Commercialization; MBA concentrations in both Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management; a General Education course in Creativity & Organizational Innovation; and an Entrepreneurial Living Learning Community.
Dr. Mitrabarun “MB” Sarkar, Professor in the Department of Strategic Management and founding Academic Director of the Global Immersion Program at the Fox School of Business, has been named the H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest Professorship in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dr. Sarkar has been a member of the schools faculty since 2008, and his appointment to the Lenfest Professorship began Jan. 1, 2014.
This distinguished professorship is named in honor of H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the well-known media entrepreneur and philanthropist. In 2006, he received the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from the Fox School, its highest honor. Lenfest is a trustee of Temple University.
“We are indebted to Gerry for his invaluable contributions to Temple University over many years,” said M. Moshe Porat, Dean of the Fox School of Business. “We are especially grateful to Gerry for his generosity in making it possible to create this endowed professorship in entrepreneurship and innovation, which are two of the most important pillars of our strategy as we transition into creating a world-class research, teaching and service institution in Philadelphia.”
According to Rajan Chandran, Vice Dean of the Fox School of Business, Sarkar is a perfect fit with the criteria for the professorship, established to advance the teaching and research of a distinguished professor whose work is focused on the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation and strategy.
“Our school has benefited from MB Sarkar’s exceptional teaching, research and leadership in these areas over the past five years,” Chandran said. “We take great satisfaction that he now continues that work in the Lenfest Professorship.”
Sarkar said he is “deeply honored and humbled” to be selected for the professorship, and thankful to Lenfest for making it possible. He also expressed gratitude to Porat and Chandran for their confidence and support in selecting him for the Lenfest Professorship, and for their unceasing leadership and support of several initiatives of which Sarkar is a part.
“Fox is an incredibly stimulating place to be,” Sarkar said. “It is imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, and embraces innovation and excellence in all domains of research, teaching and service. I look forward to being a part of the team that takes this great school to new heights as we face several disruptive and exciting changes in the higher-education landscape.”
Sarkar is a renowned scholar and a highly decorated professor. In 2013, he received the Great Teacher Award, which is Temple University’s highest honor. He has also received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award from the Fox Professional MBA Program in 2009, 2011 and 2013; from the Fox Online MBA Program in 2011 and 2013; and from the Fox Executive MBA Program in 2012 and 2014.
Sarkar’s research examines the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship on firm performance. His recent projects examine the scientific knowledge structure of firms and the search for recombinant capabilities in the semi-conductor industry, how technological pre-adaptation enabled incumbents to maneuver through disruptive change in the robotics industry, and the effect of prior experience on technological entry during the emergence phase of the LED industry.
His research has been published in several top-tier scientific journals, including The Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Management Science, Organization Science, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of International Business Studies,among others.He serves on the editorial review boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal and the Global Strategy Journal.
In 2004, his co-authored work on entrepreneurial spin-offs was recognized as the Best Paper at the Academy of Management Journal. In 2000, he received the Best Dissertation Award from the Academy of Marketing Sciences and was honored as runner-up in the 2000 American Marketing Association’s Doctoral Dissertation Competition.
Prior to joining Temple, Sarkar received his MBA from the India Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; an undergraduate degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi; and his PhD from Michigan State University.
Sarkar is the past Chair of the Entrepreneurship & Strategy Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society and has served as Chair of the Strategic Management Society’s Special India Conferences in 2008 and 2013. He also led the SMS Memorial Conference held in the memory of Professor C.K. Prahalad in San Diego in 2011. He is on the Board of Advisors of DLabs, an accelerator funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and situated at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
Prior to his entering academia, Sarkar founded and ran an entrepreneurial venture in television production, which had pioneered private participation in what was until then a completely state-owned medium. –Alexis Wright-Whitley
Arvind Parkhe, chair of the Strategic Management Department at the Fox School of Business, was recently ranked as having the highest citation count and highest average citations per paper of all of the recipients of the Academy of International Business (AIB) Best Dissertation Award from 1987 through 2012.
The late Alan Rugman, dean of the AIB Fellows, and Daniel O’Connell of the University of Reading, wrote an article about the past winners of the AIB Best Dissertation Award and examined how those winners fared through the years in terms of research output and publications in top journals. Impact of research was measured by looking at the number of times an article was cited in reputable journals.
“The more that people cite your articles, the more influential your work is,” Parkhe said. “You wrote something important for people to draw upon, base their thesis and arguments on. I was pleasantly surprised to be ranked at the top.”
The number of articles published, especially in top-tier journals, and the number of citations collected are some of the other metrics used to evaluate the impact AIB Best Dissertation Award winners have had.
Parkhe’s dissertation studied the structuring of strategic alliances – partnerships between two companies – using two theoretical lenses, game theory and transaction cost economics. He analyzed data from 342 real-world alliances to draw conclusions on how companies that are involved in strategic alliances can practice and promote cooperation and eliminate non-cooperative (cheating) behavior. His dissertation was completed at Temple University in July 1989, at which time Parkhe joined the faculty at Indiana University (Bloomington).
Parkhe received a similar award, the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) Decade Award, in 2001. JIBS examined the top articles published within it and looked at the impact during a 10-year period. Parkhe’s article, which was published in 1991, was judged to have the greatest impact between 1991 and 2001.
“Research impact matters. I consider it a great honor to have won a decade award and a research excellence award and to have been asked to become an editor of a top journal,” Parkhe said, referring to his time as editor of Academy of Management Review.
Parkhe, who currently serves as vice president of the Consortium for Undergraduate International Business Education (CUIBE), said his successes reflect well not only on him but also on the school and on his colleagues – just as their successes reflect positively on him. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said. –Alexis Wright-Whitley
Fox School of Business PhD candidate Snehal Awate, whose research interests include newly emerging industries, emerging markets, economic geography, innovation networks and patent research, has received an assistant professor of strategy position at the Indian School of Business.
Awate’s research has included an examination of wind energy in emerging markets that she co-authored with strategic management Professor Ram Mudambi, a Perelman Senior Research Fellow. During the summer of 2010, Awate studied the technological and economic impacts of wind energy by researching Indian wind-turbine company Suzlon. Awate’s comparative case analysis, published in the Global Strategy Journal, takes an in-depth look at how emerging-market multinational enterprises are catching up in knowledge-intensive emerging industries.
Awate was awarded the Ernest & Young-SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies grant for her work with Mudambi. She successfully defended her dissertation, on innovations in the global wind-power industry, in August and will receive her PhD in Business Administration later this year. Before joining the Fox School, Awate earned a master’s degree in interdisciplinary telecommunications from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Why do you think you stood out from other candidates when you applied to the Indian School of Business?
They were looking for a candidate with a promising research career. I think my research agenda and output generated so far stood out among other applicants.
What are you most looking forward to?
Interacting with and teaching the top MBA students at ISB, undoubtedly the crème of the Indian student population, and of course using ISB’s excellent research resources to further my work.
What attracted you to the Fox School?
Research diversity and the very evident faculty-student collaborations.
What drew you to focus on wind-turbine energy?
India’s rising position in the alternative energy market such as wind.
What research are you currently pursuing?
I am examining alternative energy patent data to map out multidimensional innovation networks spanning inventors, technologies and geographies.
What will you miss about Temple and Philadelphia?
I miss interacting with my friends and professors, refreshing strolls through the very lively Liacouras Walk and Bell Tower area and of course, the Art Museum and the verdant Main Line.
How would you describe the Fox PhD program to a prospective student?
This is a place of growth. The program’s strong research focus and the school’s efforts to be among the top create a very positive atmosphere for research. It’s hard not to be productive here.
The city of Philadelphia has reason to be proud: It outpaces the nation as a whole in terms of innovation connectedness. About 9 percent of patents with at least one Philadelphia-based inventor are internationally connected, compared to approximately 7 percent of patents with inventors in the United States overall. However, there is also some bad news: Philadelphia’s share of all U.S. innovative activity has dropped by half in 35 years.
A research team led by Professor of Strategic Management Ram Mudambi at Temple University’s Fox School of Business analyzed patents in the United States from 1975 to 2010 and extracted relevant data from more than 7 million observations to analyze innovation trends in the United States. To map out where inventors are located, the research team looked at all 917 geographical areas that make up the country, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
The top six foreign locations of inventors collaborating with Philadelphia-based colleagues are the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, Japan and China, which has risen to prominence only in recent years.
Industries represented by Philadelphia-based innovative activity include chemicals, computer and communications, drugs and medical, electrical and electronics, as well as mechanical industries.
Philadelphia is the seventh-largest core based statistical area (CBSA) in the United States, and the city has a long history of innovative activity commensurate with its population size.
However, Philadelphia ranks 34th of the top 35 CBSAs in terms of growth of number of local inventors from 1975 to 2010.
Although the growth of local inventors is low, “our inventors are more connected, which is good news,“ Mudambi said. “They also collaborate with networks of inventors that are overall more internationally dispersed.”
Despite the growing trends in connectedness and total patenting that Philadelphia has experienced over the past 35 years, the share of Philadelphia’s CBSA patents as a percentage of U.S. patents has fallen from about 4.8 percent in 1975 to about 2.1 percent in 2010. In other words, Philadelphia is becoming a much smaller contributor in the national production of knowledge.
The team also noticed another worrying trend between Philadelphia and its traditional knowledge partners, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. Over a 30-year period, the number of inventors who collaborated with Philadelphia from the United Kingdom dipped from about 125 inventors to 40. Inventors from Japan and Germany also dropped by more than half. These drops could be due to the relocation of research-and-development activities by pharmaceutical and chemical firms – some of the Philadelphia region’s traditional innovative sectors.
However, there has been an increase in collaboration with China. Over two years, from 2005 to 2007, inventors from China collaborating with Philadelphia rose from about 18 to 130.
“China’s come in this huge way recently,” Mudambi said. “So we wanted to know, why China? We did a little digging and found there’s one company that accounts for much of this connectedness: Metrologic.”
Metrologic Instruments is an automated identification and data-capture company based in Blackwood, N.J. (part of the Philadelphia CBSA). The company makes barcode scanners that are used in retailing, healthcare, postal services, logistics services and other industry verticals. By operating in a variety of verticals, Metrologic innovates in a way that is resilient to shifts in the economic fortunes of individual sectors.
Metrologic holds 446 patents, with 3,189 participating inventor locations. Honeywell acquired it in 2008. According to Mudambi and his team, Metrologic represents about 70 percent of the Philadelphia CBSA’s connectedness to China.
Metrologic is one of the reasons why Philadelphia surpasses the United States in terms of innovation connectedness. Philadelphia-based inventors also collaborate with South American countries (Colombia and Chile), Africa (Botswana and Madagascar), as well as Sweden, Turkey, Syria and Australia.
“Mapping the innovative connections of inventor networks gives us a picture of the dependence and linkages of a location in terms of other locations, industries and individuals,” Mudambi said.
As the saying goes, “A group that works together, stays together.” Therefore, a group or community based on trust can reap benefits from one another. Trusting communities tend to foster self-employed people or entrepreneurs whose successes are one in the same with the community. Self-employment ranges from about 5.7 percent in areas with very low social trust to about 8.4 percent in areas with very high social trust.
Community Social Capital and Entrepreneurship, published in the American Sociological Review, examines the public good of what is called social capital — the relationship and networks of a group of people who live in and work in a particular community — to see how the benefits of social trust and organizational membership help not only the individual but also the community at large.
Seok-Woo Kwon, assistant professor in the Department of Strategic Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, started the research for this project 10 years ago with Colleen Heflin from the University of Missouri and Martin Ruef of Duke University.
“People have been researching a lot about the ‘If I have a lot of social capital, then I benefit from it,’” Kwon said. “For example, I get a better job, I get a quick job referral, or I have a higher chance of starting my own business. But I thought, what if I don’t have a high social capital but I’m surrounded by people who do. Their benefits are going to spill over to me.”
Kwon and his research partners tested their arguments about the communal benefits of social capital using data from the 2000 Census, Robert Putnam’s Social Capital Benchmark Survey and the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey.
Their study suggests that the role social trust plays in entrepreneurship is crucial at the community level of analysis in two of the following ways: it encourages social groups to engage in the free flow of information and it helps small entrepreneurs to overcome a lack of recognizability.
Participating in voluntary associations produces social capital that benefits both the entrepreneur and the community. Because potential partners and customers for independent business owners are connected rather than isolated, they are encouraged to socialize and share ideas outside of their circles. Furthermore, these shared memberships between voluntary associations and organizations allow for the flow of word-of-mouth information.
There is a downside to this type of connectedness, however. Communities that are polarized by ethnic, political, religious or class differences tend to create homogenous organizations. Network expansion does not extend past the organization itself.
As the researchers were determining whether everyone receives an equal kind of spillover from neighbors, they found that that whites benefited from community social capital to a greater extent than minorities in the same community.
The same lack of spillover could also be seen among immigrants. This is for two reasons: immigrants have less individual-level social capital at the start than non-immigrants, and individual-level social capital is less generously compensated if a community social capital exists. This means that community-level social capital fails to spillover as much positive impacts and influences to marginal groups in the community, because some of these groups tend to be newer.
“The immediate, direct translation of this is that you’ve got to build a community with high social capital,” Kwon said. “That means building a community with a lot of trust, where people get to meet and socialize with each other. If you build that community, then everyone, not just a select few, benefits and can get information to start their own businesses.”