The Forgotten Dimension: National Investigation of the Relationship Between Urban Sprawl, Transportation Accessibility, and Regional Innovative Capacity

The modern economy, in recent decades, has transitioned from “labor-intensive” to “knowledge-based.” Knowledge is now viewed as the driver of productivity and regional economic growth. The economic aspects of knowledge production and the role of the built environment (more specifically, the spatial proximity of businesses) have been well studied in the literature. There is, however, little evidence on how urban form and the physical features of the built environment influence regional innovation capacity. This study seeks to address this gap in the literature and examine the relationship between urban sprawl and regional innovation. The authors use the Small Business Innovation Research database as their measure of regional innovation and the Ewing and Hamidi (2014) metropolitan compactness index as their measure of urban form. Accounting for economic and socio-demographic confounding variables, they found that compact metropolitan areas have higher innovation generation by smaller businesses than sprawling metropolitan areas. For every percentage increase in the metropolitan compactness index, the percentage of small innovative firms increases by 12 percent. Possible explanations are the lack of spatial proximity for businesses and research institutions in sprawling metro areas along with the lack of opportunities for social interaction and knowledge spillover. Moreover, the creative class as the driver of innovation and the knowledge-based economy generally prefer to live in dense, mixed-use, bike- and walk-friendly environments that are not provided in sprawling areas.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ADD30 Standing Committee on Transportation and Land Development. Alternate title: The Forgotten Dimension: National Investigation of Relationship Between Urban Sprawl, Transportation Accessibility, and Regional Innovative Capacity.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Hamidi, Shima
    • Zandiatashbar, Ahoura
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2017


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 17p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 96th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01623333
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 17-02505
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 24 2017 3:31PM