A geography of the Internet

GwangYa Han, University of Pennsylvania


This thesis examines the issue of the locational orientation of U.S. Internet enterprises in recent years. The goals are to: (1) identify fast-growing cities and regions of four segments of the Information industry (publishing, motion picture/sound recording, broadcasting/telecommunication, and information/data processing) using empirical data; (2) understand the geographical clustering process of the enterprises; and (3) discuss a set of formative influences of the cluster development based on case examples in Atlanta, Austin, Denver, and Washington, D.C. regions. The study proposes a theory that this Internet cluster is a collective product of: (1) formation of new partnerships to commercialize various intangible cultural products and intellectual technologies; (2) subsequent expansion of the enterprises via intensive strategic alliances for value-adding activities at local and regional bases; and (3) creative paths and industrial evolution of enterprises of a particular locality over time. Two sets of locational findings are: (1) there are several emerging Internet clusters (such as Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.) whose enterprise dynamics have spread beyond the commonly mentioned major high-technology regions (i.e., Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco); (2) yet, the enterprise dynamics and operation of headquarters and branch offices take the form of a poly-centered regional cluster which expands beyond the traditional notion of the city and suburb. The geographical orientation of these clusters indicates three formative influences in the early cluster development: (1) physical locations as transportation hubs and distribution nodes in regional and global settings; (2) state and local public sectors' deliberate efforts as a business supporter throughout the enterprise evolution; and (3) management of physical space and regional infrastructure to capture the enterprises' expansion and labor relocation. The findings imply public sectors' effective regional integration of industrial strategies and physical planning have influenced the enterprise dynamics which increasingly shape the development pattern of U.S. cities and regions. The study concludes with four local and regional policy implications for promoting the enterprise clustering: (1) do different roles at different stages of enterprise evolution; (2) act regionally by working together to capture the enterprise expansion; (3) look for again current industries in the region; and (4) hope you have a warm climate.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Geography|Economics|Mass media

Recommended Citation

Han, GwangYa, "A geography of the Internet" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3043884.