UCL School of Management welcomes Olga Khessina, University of Illinois, to host a research seminar discussing ‘Roadblock on the Highway to Heaven: The Suppressive Effect of Religion on Cluster
Development in a Science-Based Industry’
We develop a theory predicting a damaging effect of religion on the development of science-based industrial clusters that rely on technologies controversial from a religious standpoint. We argue that in such industries, highly religious regions are less likely to attract new organizational entrants than less religious regions. We theorized about three processes that might be at play. First, in regions with a high proportion of religious adherents, negative attitudes of religious individuals toward controversial science create cultural and institutional environments unfavorable to science-based businesses. Such regions are so unattractive to potential entrants, that they may ignore the regional abundance of relevant resources when making their entry decisions. Second, highly religious regions are likely to become a target for religion-related social movements, which should also repel potential entrants. Finally, there could be an ecological effect of religion, wherein the damaging impact of religiosity of a focal region may be somewhat mitigated, if neighboring regions are more religious than the focal one. The event-count analyses of entry rates of biotherapeutics firms in Metropolitan statistical areas in the United States from the beginning of the industry in 1976 through 2004 support our predictions, and, thus, reveal that religion can be a roadblock to the development of science-based clusters based on novel technologies that are considered controversial.