Professor's book offers lessons in economic development

Sarfraz MianBy studying 14 regions in North America that are or have the potential to become hotspots of technology innovation, Dr. Sarfraz Mian of SUNY Oswego and his collaborators in Mexico and Canada have deduced characteristics for success that policymakers can look to as they pursue economic development based on science and technology.

They summarize their findings in their new book, “Building Knowledge Regions in North America: Emerging Technology Innovation Poles,” published by Edward Elgar Publishing. Mian’s co-authors are Leonel Corona of the National University of Mexico and Jerome Doutriaux of the University of Ottawa.

Each co-author selected “knowledge regions,” or “technology innovation poles,” for analysis in their own country. In the United States, Mian focused on New York’s Capital Region, the New River Valley in Virginia and the metropolitan areas of Chicago and Madison, Wisc.

“Regions are going to be the real drivers of economic development,” Mian said. Successful regions feature agglomerations of knowledge-based businesses that “continually produce new products and stay competitive through innovation,” he said.

The book compares regions recognized for their “economic dynamism” with less successful regions to derive a theoretical framework of interlocking factors that support development.

“Our framework is prescriptive for developing regions,” Mian said. It includes:

- key regional actors (technology-oriented firms, government incentives, and universities or research and development centers)
- a robust regional context (entrepreneurial culture, qualified workforce, good quality of life, low cost of doing business, industrial base, and supportive communications and transportation infrastructure)
- innovation process enablers (including incubation centers, risk capital, “champions,” anchor organizations, networking opportunities and support services).

A professor of management in SUNY Oswego’s School of Business, Mian holds a doctorate in management and organization from George Washington University and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, management science and business administration from three universities.

He has worked as an engineer, an operations manager and a consultant for organizations ranging from Morbin Oil Corp. and the Toronto Sun Publishing Corp. to IBM and the World Bank. He was the founding president of a start-up company in Houston.

“Building Knowledge Regions in North America” grows out of his work with Corona and Doutriaux on Project Monarca. Named after the butterfly that spans the North American continent, the project involved one researcher from each of the three signatory nations to the North American Free Trade Agreement. A grant from the Inter-Institutional Research Program for North America of El Colegio de Mexico funded Project Monarca, beginning in 1998.

“This is a policy book for policymakers,” Mian said. The hardcover retails for $110.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Regional study— Dr. Sarfraz Mian, professor of management at SUNY Oswego, and his co-authors from universities in Mexico and Canada provide pointers for policymakers in their new book, “Building Knowledge Regions in North America: Emerging Technology Innovation Poles.”

(Posted: Jun 01, 2006)