Knowledge-bases, places, spatial configurations and the performance of knowledge-intensive professional service firms

Bruce S. Tether, Qian Cher Li, Andrea Mina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, both economic geographers and innovation scholars have paid considerable attention to knowledge-intensive-business-services (KIBS) and professional service firms (PSFs). Both communities have also shown a strong interest in knowledge and 'knowledge bases'. Considering architecture to be based on symbolic and synthetic knowledge, and engineering to be based on analytical and synthetic knowledge, and using a panel dataset, this article examines the different geographies of performance among architecture practices and engineering consultancies active in the UK construction industry. We find that architecture practices are significantly more concentrated in inner London, whereas the engineering consultancies are much more dispersed. Locating in inner London provides significant financial benefits to architects but not to engineers. Ultimately, the various drivers of performance are rather different, with a Christallerian logic applying to architects but not to engineers. We consider that different knowledge bases are fundamental to understanding these differences between architects and engineers and KIBS/PSFs more generally. © The Author (2012). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberlbs015
Pages (from-to)969-1001
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • Competitiveness
  • Head-quarters location
  • Knowledge bases
  • Knowledge intensive business services
  • Professional service firms
  • Spatial configuration


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