Owner-managers, clusters and local embeddedness: Small firms in the Sheffield (UK) metal-working cluster

H. Doug Watts, Andrew M. Wood, Perry Wardle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The primary objective of this paper is to explore the ways in which the characteristics of owner-managers influence the extent to which their firms are embedded within local clusters of economic activity. Data are drawn from an interview survey of a random sample of small metal-working firms in Sheffield, UK. The data are analysed using non-parametric statistical methods to test bivariate relationships. Owner-manager attributes are found to have no influence on the extent of the use of local material supply networks but they do influence the extent of dependence on local markets. Owner-managers born and bred in the local region with limited formal education, working as an operative (rather than executive) prior to start up and with many years experience are more likely to rely on local markets. Owner-manager characteristics are also linked to participation in business networks. Those with most experience and those previously working for large firms are more likely to participate. It is concluded that owner-manager attributes can be important in explaining the level of embeddedness of small firms in a cluster of economic activity and that such attributes need to be built into theories of cluster behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-205
Number of pages21
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Clusters
  • Embeddedness
  • Metal-working
  • Small firms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics


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