City, Culture and Society 2 (2011) 45–54

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Innovative workers in relation to the city: The case of a natural resource-based centre (Calgary)
Camille D. Ryan ⇑, Ben Li, Cooper H. Langford
Science, Technology and Society Program, Faculty of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr., NW Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
A large recent literature argues that cities’ capacity to attract and retain creative talent crucially supports innovation and economic health. Instead of understanding ‘creative’ contributions statistically through education, job classification, income, and economic growth, this paper qualitatively explores workers’ attitudes about the city in which they pursue a career. This paper identifies and reports on factors of attraction and retention of individuals that have been identified as ‘innovative workers’ by firms in Calgary, a natural resource-based centre in Canada studied in the years 2006–2008. The data were drawn from interviewees’ responses to questions about attitudes toward the city as a place to work and about possible moves to alternative locations, in the context of a study of the social dynamics of innovation from the city perspective. Analysis qualitatively extends seven established themes of the socio and economic development. We find that economic opportunities, several environmental factors, personal networks, and professional networks were most attractive, while socio-cultural diversity was less emphasized. Crown Copyright Ó 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 31 August 2010 Received in revised form 3 February 2011 Accepted 18 March 2011 Available online 30 April 2011 Keywords: Embeddedness Expressed preferences Talent Attraction Retention Economic growth

Introduction Capacity to attract and retain talent is a commonly accepted factor for success in innovation systems from the level of an industrial cluster (Breschi & Malerba, 2001; Maskell & Malmberg, 1999; Wolfe & Gertler, 2003) to the regional system (Cooke, Gomez, & Etxebarria, 1997; Cooke & Leydesdorff, 2006; Florida, 2002a,b, 2004) to national systems (Freeman, 1997; Lundvall, 1992) and to global centers of excellence (Mahroum, 2000a,b, 2005). Such innovation studies presume that talent, either generated individually or through teams, originates creative activities leading to innovation. Studies based on semi-structured interviews with managers in Canada of innovative firms (e.g., Holbrook, Adam, Arthurs, & Cassidy, 2010; Langford, Wood, & Jacobsen, 2005; Langford, Wood, & Ross, 2003; Phillips, Ryan, Karwandy, Procyshyn, & Parchewski, 2008) found that firms prefer to locate near ‘thick labor markets’. Thus, assessing factors that attract and retain talent is central to examining a regional innovation system. This study focuses
⇑ Corresponding author. Address: Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5A8. Tel.: +1 403 809 2831; fax: +1 306 966 8413. E-mail address: (C.D. Ryan).

on individuals in positions that influence innovation within organizations in both private and public sectors in the Calgary census metropolitan area (CMA). ‘‘Creativity” is multi-faceted: as a ‘precondition’ to innovation (Bassett-Jones, 2005), as contributor to the innovation process through developing ideas (West, 2002), and in its catalytic and interdependent relationship with diversity and competitive advantage in facilitating the innovation process (West & Anderson, 1996). ‘‘Creativity” extends beyond arts and design, encompassing all human potential for the original and, in turn, generates unique value to the firm or broader system. Identifying these innovative individuals requires finding those whose disposition or site of opportunity leads to demonstration of original contribution. This qualitative study employed a protocol (see below) to identify such individuals, while semi-structured interviews allowed actors to express views from their own perspectives. Various hypotheses examine a region’s quantitative characteristics to attract and retain creative individuals, ranging from a central role of a rich and diverse culture (e.g., Florida, 2000, 2002a,b, 2004; Gertler, Florida, Gates, & Vinodrai, 2002) to simple market factors (e.g., Shearmur, 2007). While respecting the analytical strengths of each of the approaches, we use a more cultural approach (à la Barnes, 2001) to examine these human factors. Richard

1877-9166/$ - see front matter Crown Copyright Ó 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ccs.2011.03.002


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Florida (2004) captures the issue in a defense of the term ‘creative class’: Some have criticized the idea of a creative class as elitist and exclusionary. . . it is neither. . . I came to use this term out of frustration with the snobbery of concepts such as ‘knowledge workers’, ‘information society’, ‘high-tech economy’. . . I find [‘creative class’] to be more accurate in defining the real source of economic value creation—that is human creativity—and because it is an intellectual construct that extends to all forms of human potential: the vast storehouse that is human creative capacity (p. 4). This article reports factors of a city region, perceived by innovative individuals, that enable and build a talent base supporting innovation in a natural resource (upstream oil and gas) centre. The individuals, identified as ‘innovative workers’ by the firms or organizations that employ them, occupy roles that include but expand on Florida’s creative work job categories. Identifying the innovative worker A common statistical approach (e.g., Florida, 2002b; Gertler et al., 2002) counts employment in sectors normally requiring advanced educational credentials1 as an indicator of talent with a complementary category of those employed in ‘creative’ occupations. These indicators by correlation (Jaffe, 1998) do not directly measure a target. All such indicators are based on statistical hypotheses. Florida and Gertler implicitly justify the hypotheses by two claims. The first claim is that talent relevant to innovation (and—by implication—growth) is more concentrated in individuals with advanced education credentials2 than in the general population. The second claim is that their employment indicates they are paid for doing creative work (Florida, 2004).3 The statistical hypotheses do not at all imply that innovation processes exclude important individuals lacking formal credentials, nor does the second mean that all employees in a given job category are consistently creative. Such statistical hypotheses have enabled large studies comparing performance of many cities. In contrast, our qualitative investigation looks deeper than educational credentials to recognize direct evidence of creative contribution in working environments. For comparability of results, this inquiry builds upon the statistical definitions of creative talent. An expanded criterion identifies workers whose contributions support innovation capacity in previously studied and characterized work contexts. Operationally, innovative workers substantially control the direction, management and quality of their work and commonly employ abstract concepts as a primary vocational tool. Innovative workers seek challenge, and especially can recognize new connections challenging current paradigms. The role of the social context will be the matter of empirical investigation. Therefore, this study relies on an operational definition of ‘creative talent’ in the Calgary context, referring to both the individual informants’ roles and the process for selecting ’innovative’ individuals to interview.
For example, bachelor’s degrees and beyond. A major study of American cities (Florida, 2004) found that creative class employment was a better correlate of income than human capital (education), whereas the reverse was true for total wealth.
2 1

The overall project protocol3 prescribed semi-structured interviews with senior executives of firms and community organizations, as well as with individuals identified as ‘innovative workers’. In an effort to identify individuals of the latter type, senior executives were asked to identify those individuals who would be ‘difficult to replace’ since simply asking for ‘creative’ staff yielded mainly in-house writers and graphic artists. The approach assumed that the identified individual’s occupational role produces a direct vocational output that is not easily substitutable, despite the fact that others may also be difficult to replace. Candidates who conducted innovative work in either an individual or team capacity were included. Candidates deemed difficult to replace only because of long learning curves related to their position in communication networks were excluded. We thus selected individuals who occupy positions of higher innovative potential than workers whose static roles prescribed invariant tasks that may nonetheless be performed by highly degreed individuals with grand titles. Several additional individuals were included because their creative contributions have been publically identified. The resulting refined list of individuals—deemed to be ’innovative workers’ in their respective roles—operationalizes our definition of creativity in this present innovation context. Empirically, innovative workers identified by our criteria captured those whose occupational circumstance (including but not limited to having a ‘‘creative” role or educational credentials) was crucial to their employers by virtue of providing unique value. Thus, includes ‘‘creative” workers in the sense of meeting the criteria prescribed by literature, but also includes workers whose innovative practice contributes to the overall creative outputs of the city. Although this definition of ‘innovative worker’ builds on previous concepts of ‘‘creative”, it is concerned with individuals who do creative things affecting the city, rather than with (solely) their statistical categories.

The Calgary context Despite Calgary’s role as an economic hub in oil and gas, there are neither major oil wells nor refineries within 100 km of the city. Key actors in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)4 provide managerial, technical, and financial knowledge to resource extraction projects of regional, panCanadian and global scope. Calgary shares such a role with other typical petroleum industry centers as Houston, Texas; London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Stavanger, Norway. Analysing regional knowledge-flow factors, viewed through a spatial lens, must draw not only on relational economic geography (Bathelt & Glückler, 2003) but must systematically include context. The perceptions and expressed preferences of interviewed innovative workers therefore pro3 The Calgary project is one of a set of coordinated studies across Canada sponsored by the Innovation Systems Research Network (ISRN). The ISRN project explores how local social characteristics and processes in city-regions determine their economic vitality and dynamism as centers of innovation and creativity. It is supported by a Major Collaborative Research Initiative grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 4 The Census Metropolitan Area is defined by Statistics Canada as a central core city of 100,000 or more and surrounding communities where a majority of the labour force is employed in the central city.

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vide key data to analyze the social circumstances that the individual interviewees construct. The Calgary CMA experienced nearly unique rapid internal migration growth from 1996 to 2005 among Canadian cities. Power law relationships can relate growth to size in exponential relationships of the form:

LogðgrowthÞ ¼ bLogðsizeÞ
A power law relationship implies that the driving mechanisms for growth are scale free. The parameter b is constant over all sizes. Many such relationships for cities (on a global basis) are reviewed by Bettencourt, Lobo, Helbing, Kuhnert, and West (2007) comparing growth patterns to well-known biological relationships.5 Typical biological size scaling relationships exhibit b values less than 1, reflecting economies of scale. In contrast, cities relationships reflecting wealth creation and innovation have b values of 1.2 which implies increasing returns to scale whereas those of infrastructure display b values of $0.8 (economies of scale) (Bettencourt et al., 2007). Economic geographers (e.g., Krugman, 1996) typically also invoke proportionate growth to explain urban hierarchies with growth-size distributions. Slopes of power law scaling relations, b, characterize mechanisms operating throughout the group, but special characteristics emerge from outliers. For example, Lorenzen and Andersen (2007) report creative class presence in 445 European cities follows power laws divided into three distinct phases. Among Canada’s larger cities (CMA population > 200,000, n = 17), any power law relation between overall population growth and size is weak (b $ 0.2, R2 = 0.15) and a power law for employment percentage growth is even weaker (b $ 0.2, R2 = 0.03). However, Calgary’s employment growth of 17%, against the national average of 9%, is more than four percent higher than the closest competitor city. An earlier analysis (Langford, Li, & Ryan, 2010) shows a strong power law relationship for Canadian CMAs between city size and net migration from 2001 to 2005 (b = 1.3, R2 = 0.82). Cities with populations over 200,000 appear to experience increasing returns to scale in their attractiveness to newcomers. Positive network effects are fundamental to attraction to all cities. However, Calgary is a positive outlier6 experiencing distinctive inmigration, whatever the form of the overall relationship to size. Embeddedness We propose an indicator designated ‘embeddedness’ to capture factors reported about innovative workers decisions both to move to and to remain in the CMA. An ‘embedded’ individual is hypothesized to conduct the
5 For example, total employment in US cities scales against population with a b coefficient of 1.01, whereas new patents, number of inventors and private sector R&D employment all scale with b coefficients greater than 1.2. In contrast, road surface length in Germany scales against population with a b value of 0.83 while gasoline sales in the United States scale with a coefficient of 0.79. 6 Others are Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Oshawa. Edmonton has similarities to Calgary. Kitchener-Waterloo has a vibrant high technology sector, and Oshawa is the closest CMA to Toronto. The three largest CMAs of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are experiencing major growth in suburbs and exurbs and Oshawa may be a beneficiary of this trend.

majority of their personal, social and economic activities within the geographic locality based upon the advantageous context it provides. The indicator in this case study bears a relation to embeddedness as defined as Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, and Erez (2001) firm-level ‘job embeddedness’. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, groups of phrases about embeddedness were drawn from fully transcribed interviews and grouped under one or more of seven hypotheses which serve as high-level categories for our analysis. H1 is implicit in the literature cited above. H2 closely matches Shearmur’s (2007) economic hypothesis. Relating closely to H2, H3 was suggested by the very common reference to Calgary’s ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’. H4 and H5 ascribe detail to abstract social networks. The remaining two test factors of attraction in the local environment often discussed in the urban studies literature. H6 concerns amenities such as safe streets and good schools. H7 concerns the physical environment, e.g., proximity to the Rocky Mountains and ready access to outdoor activities. H1. A socio-cultural environment rich in diversity attracts and retains innovative workers.

H2. Economic opportunity is a key attractor for innovative workers based upon opportunities and growth-driven growth. H3. The local business environment or a ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’ serves as a key attractor for innovative workers. H4. The existence of professional networks (with strong links) provides a dynamic, adaptable and flexible working environment. H5. The existence of personal, leisure activity, and/or family networks (with strong links) attracts and retains innovative workers. H6. Structural amenities such as good schools, transportation and safety are important factors for embedding innovative workers in a community. H7. The physically attractive environment provides opportunities for recreational activity for innovative workers. The full flavor of comments assigned to each group is illustrated with individual interview quotes in the discussion. Methods A set of questions relating to each hypothesis (H1 through H7) was selected from the ISRN interview instrument (see Appendix A for list of questions). For each question, a response sheet containing every Calgary interviewee’s response to the question was automatically compiled from a database of responses. Some questions provided data about more than one of H1 through H7. By this means, attitudes, and perceptions were grouped into the seven categories.


C.D. Ryan et al. / City, Culture and Society 2 (2011) 45–54 Table 1 Hypotheses, supporting mentions, and indexes. Hypotheses Number of supporting mentions 208 306 164 119 Weighted Average Positivity Index (WAPI) 0.33 0.18 0.33 0.15 Embeddedness Index (EI) 68.64 55.08 54.12 17.85

Response sheets were then inspected for common phrases capturing embeddedness factors. Responses were coded for mentions of 28 potential embeddedness factors that may be viewed as positive, neutral or negative in the Calgary context (these factors are explored in more detail in a preliminary version of this paper (see Langford et al., 2010). Each embeddedness factor was finally assigned to one of H1 through H7, providing the operational definition of the factor (vide infra). Each response sheet was also reviewed for responses specifically targeted to one of H1 through H7. A binary variable was assigned when the interviewee mentioned an embeddedness factor concerning their careers and Calgary’s innovation system. For a positive mention Calgary, a ‘+’ was marked alongside the question number. For a negative effect, a ‘À’ was analogously marked. Mentions of each embeddedness factor were tallied, and separately the net frequency of positive or negative mentions was computed. We then computed a Positivity Index (À1 to 1) for each embeddedness factor as follows:

H4 H2 H5 H3


H7 H6

Professional networks Economic opportunities Personal networks Local business environment Sociocultural diversity Natural environment Structural Amenities




47 60

0.11 0.05

5.17 3.00

or oil and gas. The remaining 53% span areas including advertising/media/multimedia, retail and customer service,

PIn ¼

algebraic sum of positive and negative mentions embeddedness factor n absolute value of number of times embeddedness factornoccurred

For each of H1 through H7, we gathered the relevant supporting embeddedness factors. We then computed a Weighted Aggregated Positivity Index for each hypothesis as follows:

legal and financial services, architecture/design and labor/ construction. The following quotes demonstrate the process and qualitative character of the responses assigned in each category.



ðPInÃ Þ ¼

number of mentions for embeddedness factorn number of mentions for all embeddedness factor contributing toHx

The summed positivity indices are reported in Table 1. Together, the product of the number of mentions and the Weighted Positivity Index gives the Embeddedness Index indicator (EI) as a candidate indicator the ‘attractiveness’ of the hypothesized influences. Results and analysis In total, we interviewed 48 individuals from firms and organizations in the Calgary CMA. Some individuals identified practice in more than one area for a total of 121 practices. The largest area represents the aggregate of civic society organizations (CSOs) (i.e. government, charitable or not-for-profit organizations) at 13%. The next four largest employment areas, in aggregate, represent Calgary’s natural resource industries (33%): consulting/management, environmental/engineering, technical/manufacturing and/

Socio-cultural diversity (H1) included openness to sociocultural novelty, perceived social issues such as homelessness and discrimination and responses to them as well as and opportunities for socio-cultural participation: ‘‘[Y]ou’ve got festivals representing every kind of cultural ethnicity that I can think of which is fabulous. . . we have representation in all these things, including the Gay Pride Parade. . . the Disability Arts Festival and so on.”

Economic opportunity (H2) includes the positive perception of youth as able and desired professionals, conditions and opportunities afforded by the large size and continuing growth of Calgary, spin-off from oil and gas, economic diversity; available employment opportunities for innovative workers to practice their preferred vocational skills; as well as the price of goods, services and real estate:

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‘‘[Calgary is] a young, modern city. There’s tremendous opportunity. It’s a fast city. . . the financial centre, the oil centre, the business centre. . . It’s a wonderful place, especially for young professionals. There’s so much opportunity here. . .” Another interviewee offered: ‘‘. . .it’s the boom–it’s the boom philosophy, the pioneering spirit. . . ‘we try, we will’! We do have an abundance of heart in this town. . . corporate support. . . citizen support. . . ‘‘ The local business environment (H3) includes formal and informal governance and business aspects, such as clients open to new business opportunities, entrepreneurial spirit, and the political environment. Some interviewees equated government support with a ‘‘hands-off” or indirect approach to supporting business: ‘‘I think that this is what makes Alberta unique. . . in Alberta our political culture is such that we don’t expect the government to take care of things for us. . . we don’t want government to take care of things for us. . .” Professional networks (H4) are valued informal relationships within a professional circle directly or indirectly connected to business activities. A corporate environment comprised of networks of inter-firm and intra-firm relationships supports professional networks enabling innovative workers to connect to local customers and jobs: ‘‘It’s all about keeping your relationships open in Calgary. If you’re a little bit of an extrovert and you’re smart, you should have no problem networking yourself into never having to worry about work.” Personal networks (H5) provided long-term opportunities for personal (non-vocationally-driven) learning, for volunteerism, civic activity and other community participation. Personal networks include friends and, of course, that primary personal network–family connections: ‘‘I have a really close network of friends. My family is here. We moved here when I was five [years old], my parents are in their 80s.” Structural amenities (H6) embedding innovative workers in the Calgary CMA—such as good schools, transportation and safe streets—provided the substrate for vitality, growth and reflection: ‘‘. . .the schools, the educational system, all the of the things. . . of an urban centre or a region. . . are the fabric of what makes Calgary a great city. . .” Finally, the CMA’s unique natural and geophysical setting (H7) near the Rocky Mountains provided aesthetic attraction and recreational opportunities for individuals, and personal and professional groups: ‘‘. . .so much available—the mountains, right next door. . . if you’re into that kind of thing. . . the camping, skiing, climbing, etc.” In addition to these positive comments, several features were said to be unattractive. For example, socio-cultural diversity (H1) was mentioned moderately frequently, but negatively. The positive impact of the economic ‘boom’ brought some countervailing social disparities:

‘‘I think that the scale of urban growth is causing a divergence. . . causing a gulf between the rich and the poor. . . homelessness is the paradox of prosperity. The economically and socially disenfranchised can’t keep up with the increasing costs. . .” The ‘boom’ and dominance of the oil and gas industry was also perceived to limit and define firm establishment and growth: ‘‘I’ve learned over the years never start into a business in Alberta that doesn’t have direct implications and impact on the oil and gas business. This is an oil and gas town. . .” Between 2004 and 2006, polls of attitudes in the Calgary business community (Calgary Economic Development Authority, 2007) found that employers’ perceptions of quality of life and the labor market declined and were seen as negative economic factors. While some respondents viewed the ‘‘hands-off” role of government as effective in supporting the local business environment, others were more critical: ‘‘I think [the government] is really trying hard, but at some point they’re going to have to give up their cheerleader role and actually step in and participate as partners. . .” As with Calgary’s population growth, factors that most strongly attract and retain innovative workers and support opportunities for these individuals to engage in innovation are scale-free. Evaluating the indicator On average 12.5 observations of the types quoted above were drawn from each of the 48 interview transcripts. Table 1 summarizes the number of relevant mentions under each hypothesis and the calculated Weighted Average Positivity Index (WAPI) and the Embeddedness Indicator (EI). These factors give an indicator ranking for each hypothesis, and provide its operational definition with respect to perceptions of Calgary. Interviewees indicate that Calgary’s networks (both personal and professional), together with economic opportunities, mattered most to Calgary’s attractiveness. However, the indicator does not strongly point in a single direction, thereby underlining the complexity of context. Most interviewees valued different combinations of elements in their relationship to Calgary. Relation to a place exhibits multi-dimensional richness escaping simple statistical regression of key factors. Both professional (H4) and personal (H5) networks strongly retain (attract?) innovative workers Personal networks ranked third in the EI, while professional networks ranked first. Personal networks were often linked to family and/or grassroots connections to the community, both key factors for remaining in or returning to the Calgary CMA: ‘‘I am pretty established here. . . my family is here. No, I don’t think that I would move.”


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Professional networks stimulated informal ties and connections to enable these individuals to conduct and succeed in work-related activities: ‘‘What makes Calgary unique is that people are pretty open and honest here. Trust is important. It creates a foundation for ‘deals get done with a handshake’.” Geophysics is an oil and gas area with a very strong professional network having formal and regular meetings: ‘‘Calgary has to be the most closely knit geo-scientific group in the world. . . because the city is compact. . .” However in another sector, informal and social gatherings were also key: ‘‘It’s during the three-hour cocktail session that we’re actually going to learn something, exchange an idea, start a conversation that goes somewhere. . . a lot of cocktail hours, shorter formal sessions, that’s the ticket.” Economic opportunity is viewed as a key attractor for innovative workers based upon opportunities for growthdriven growth (H2) The economic boom has created huge opportunities for enterprise and growth in the Calgary CMA. Interviewees repeatedly commented on this: ‘‘Calgary vibrates with opportunity!” However, some respondents criticized the expense of living and operating in Calgary: ‘‘This city has struggled a lot with growth. Commercial space is expensive. . . The health system. . . lacks availability of family doctors. . .” The fact that innovative workers continue to live and conduct business in the Calgary CMA, despite some social and economic adversity, indicates that other factors in the environment are sufficiently valuable, economically or socially, to attract and retain them: ‘‘Calgary is the most challenging place I’ve ever worked. I mean, I moved here to be near the mountains, to ski and to mountain bike and to do all those kinds of things. . .” The local business environment or a ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’ serves as a key attractor for innovative workers (H3) Entrepreneurial spirit and available work niches combine for many respondents: ‘‘There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in Calgary which you just cannot beat. . .it’s easy to raise money and run with an idea.” Relative to other large metropolitan centres such as Toronto or Vancouver, Calgary is also viewed as easy to navigate around, reducing commuting times: ‘‘I think there’s a lot of advantages to its location and the transportation services, you can pretty much go wherever

you want from here and you get there relatively quick.” Another interviewee stated: ‘‘I like convenience, I like low stress. I think I can get that in Calgary more than any major city in Canada or the US.” The dominant oil and gas industry is viewed negatively as talent in one sector is lost to oil and gas. ‘‘The oil and gas sector has really made it difficult for businesses like myself, because they’re paying their assistants a hundred grand.” There are also suggestions that the industry’s dominance inhibits economic diversity within the CMA. Government awareness or action in relation to backing new, existing and necessary initiatives to enhance some aspects of Calgary’s economic environment is viewed negatively: ‘‘I think [the government is] really trying hard, but at some point they’re going to have to give up their cheerleader role and actually step in and participate as partners. . . put a little bit of money where your mouth is.” A socio-cultural environment rich in diversity attracts and retains innovative workers (H1) The calculated EI corresponds to interviewee responses that socio-cultural diversity does little to embed innovative workers in the Calgary CMA: ‘‘Culturally speaking, Calgary really needs to have a thicker base of exciting things to do. . .” Another interviewee added: ‘‘Arts is a bit of a rough sell here.” Additionally, negative attitudes were reported with respect to government responsibility to address social issues such as poverty, ethno-cultural discrimination and economic disparity: ‘‘Engaging [government] has not been easy. And getting minorities into positions of influence that could actually make changes is missing.” A physically attractive environment provides opportunities for recreational activity for innovative workers (H7) Despite the natural environment’s low ranking in the embeddedness index, Calgary’s proximity to the mountains strongly attracts some innovative workers:‘‘I moved here to be near the mountains, to ski and to mountain bike and to do all those kinds of things.” This was echoed by another interviewee: ‘‘. . .it’s the mountains and easy access to the great outdoors. . .” Calgary was characterized as a beautiful city and ‘‘. . . a great place to live. And yet we all want to escape to the mountains or the lake on the weekends because you want to go back to nature. . .and it’s the simple things in life that are maybe the most important.” Structural amenities such as good schools, transportation and safety are important factors for embedding individuals in a community (H6) Structural amenities strongly attracted innovative workers who could access them:

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‘‘I’m happy in Calgary, it’s vibrant, it’s safe, it’s clean. . .” and ‘‘[Calgary is] a great place to raise kids. It still seems to me to be a friendly place.” However, their deficiencies were unattractive and varied: ‘‘There are social issues including homelessness and a lack of low income housing.” Another respondent raised concerns: ‘‘. . .it’s taking newcomers much longer to catch up than the average Canadian. More and more of them are homeless and. . . [a] higher, vast, growing number of them are living in poverty.”Aptly referred to by an interviewee as the ‘‘paradox of prosperity”, these latter quotes and those about the importance of networks illustrate the significant social dimensions of innovation supporting Calgary’s growth economy. Most responses concerning the experience of practicing a creative profession in Calgary related to the notion of social capital. Creative talent and social capital The character of creative talent accumulated in a given locale reflects (or is reflected by) the social capital at that locale. Social capital may be defined as ‘‘. . .networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate co-operation within and among groups” (OECD, 2001). Putnam defines social capital as ‘‘the features of social life—networks, norms and trust—that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives” (Putnam, 2000; page 665). Coleman and James (1988) sees social capital as being comprised of social structure resources such as government welfare agencies, sources of wealth, activities for sharing and communitybased aid and the role of social contacts or networks (1994)—see the importance of comments under H4 and H5 above. Collective actions are generated largely through repeated face-to-face interaction (or connections) in horizontal networks (Ostrom, 2001; Putnam, 1993; Putnam, 1995; Putnam, 2000). Social capital appears in econometric analysis because the social capital theory asserts that social networks have value affecting the productivity of individuals and groups (Putnam, 2000; 18–19). Several features of Calgary’s location, and its social and economic history established the social capital at the foundation of Calgary’s innovation and economic growth. Discovery of oil and gas in the Turner Valley region south of Calgary early in the 20th century, followed by construction of pipelines in the 1950s, re-invented Calgary’s economic, political and social structures. Oil and gas delivered the prosperity that had been denied by ranching and railroads (Foran & MacEwan-Foran, 1982). Phenomenal growth since 1947 is almost exclusively a product of emerging leadership of the Canadian petroleum industry, which both developed and attracted a pool of creative talent. By 2006 few oil or gas wells remained near Calgary but it has become home to head offices of 87% of Canada’s oil and natural gas producers (Calgary Economic Development Authority, 2007). Calgary concentrates the technical, managerial and financial knowledge to operate resource extraction in Calgary’s

Alberta hinterland, across Canada, and globally. Spencer and Vinodrai (2007, 2009) report that Calgary led all Canadian cities in in-migration of science and engineering, financial, and construction professionals. Simultaneously, Calgary was third among cities in in-migration of arts and culture professionals. Calgary ranks fifth among large Canadian cities in both the Bohemian (artistic employment) index and the Mosaic (population diversity) index (Gertler et al., 2002). The differences in opportunity and/or demand in those sectors aligns with our finding that economic factors take priority over social factors. While a major factor of in-migration from 2002 to 2008 is the economic ‘boom’ stimulated by the sharp rise in the price of oil, Calgary was similarly an outlier for 1996–2001 when oil and gas growth was only moderate. These statistical measures reflect the highly networked nature of creative talent attraction qualitatively identified in the previous section. Calgary’s economy is knowledge-based and concentrated in two senses. The headquarters of the major natural resource players and many minor ones are concentrated in a compact city centre of high-rises bearing logos of petroleum companies and major financial firms. Out of over 700,000 jobs in the Calgary Economic Region, 138,500 jobs (City of Calgary, 2008a) are concentrated in Calgary’s downtown core (City of Calgary, 2008b). A network of enclosed pedestrian walkways connect work and public spaces, facilitating informal networking and encourages open exchanges among firms and their innovative workers. The second sense of concentration concerns knowledge concentration vs. knowledge diversity in an innovation system. The presence of six ‘clustered industries’ identified from employment statistics of standard industrial categories suggests a diverse economy. The Conference Board of Canada (2007a) reports an economic structure index of 0.77 for Calgary (0 = not diverse, 1 = highest diversity), indicating a high level of economic diversity. However, interviews with firm leaders classified in the scientific, ICT and professional services industries (Langford, Li, & Ryan, forthcoming) reveal that most scientific and engineering professionals focus on oil and gas activity. A very large fraction of the business of financial and construction firms support oil and gas activity. The technical, managerial and financial knowledge to operate resource extraction locally and globally is not found only in oil and gas firms, but requires gathering highly skilled employees to mobilize a diverse platform of related knowledge. The emergence of a platform (Cooke et al., 2007) of related knowledge places Calgary squarely between the two conceptions of knowledge distributions conducive of innovation and growth. The first is the idea that concentration of knowledge in the leading industry drives innovation and growth, often called the MAR theory (Glaeser, Kallal, Scheinkman, & Shleifer, 1992). The second is the idea that innovation and growth are promoted by a diverse distribution of knowledge over a number of industries, facilitating injection of novelty, an idea pioneered by Jacobs (1970). Some respondents emphasized value derived from informal professional networks facilitated by central concentration of employment. For many interviewees, professional networks did not appear superficially to promote inter-sector interaction. For example, a quote above highlights the strength of the


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geophysical community network, while remarks about coffee meetings and similar informal networking tend to identify members of a sector’s value chain (those in different firms working toward common goals). Exceptions included interviewees from multimedia/advertising, and electronic manufacturing sectors who reported gaining reusable knowledge by working with the oil and gas industry. Previous studies of the origins in Calgary of wireless telecommunication, global positioning systems, and several software activities demonstrated that sector specific knowledge has spun out into new independent sectors as the oil industry has reached out for new tools (Langford et al., 2003). By contrast, common major environmental factors of outdoor recreation, civic engagement (volunteerism), and shared interests in entrepreneurship clearly gather enthusiasts working in different sectors. These associations can create personally valuable and difficult to substitute ‘‘weak links” (Granovetter, 1983) diffusing heterodox ideas but also gathering diverse sources of support for new ventures. Interest in entrepreneurial activity may lead only to membership in a sector-oriented association (e.g., The Petroleum Club, or the WiTec wireless association), or be expressed in involvement with broader-based organizations like Calgary Technologies, Inc. or the Calgary Association for Advanced Technology. Participating provides individuals (and perhaps employers) with unique combinations of value. However, some respondents report difficulty when attempting non-oil-and-gas-related enterprises despite access to rich networks. A final factor in the generation of social capital emerged in interviews with organizations in cultural, charitable and civic organizations. (Feng, Li, & Langford, forthcoming). Firms support the efforts of their employees to serve as volunteers and board members of these not-for-profits. This engages private sector actors with the social and cultural organizations and, at the same time, brings employees of different firms together. Concluding remarks Statistical analysis of embeddedness of creative talent in Canadian cities, whether emphasizing cultural (Gertler et al., 2002) or economic factors (Shearmur, 2007), must by definition deal in aggregates that cannot distinguish mixed motives of an individual from variations between individuals. The diversity of industries represented among migrants to Calgary, and the diversity of non-Calgary-specific factors implies that findings may generalize beyond our Calgary case. Our observations—that both personal and professional networks are key perceived attraction and retention factors for what we define as ‘innovative workers’—echo findings about job embeddedness in which a social network provides professional benefits (Mitchell et al., 2001), and consistent with literature about high switching costs against changing social networks leading to locational attachment (Bolan, 1997). Environmental factors—natural environment and business environment—deserve some final comment. Social perceptions of Calgary’s business environment, economic opportunity and, to a lesser degree, networking, clearly reflect their interdependence in innovative practice:

‘‘There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in the city. . . an open-forbusiness attitude. . . you can’t duplicate that anywhere in the world. . .” Proximity of the Rocky Mountains and opportunities for outdoor activity figure prominently in attracting and retaining young technical and scientific talent in the wireless industry (Langford et al., 2003). This is a motive that does animate all sectors: ‘‘I’m here because it’s two and a half hours to my cottage. . . the lake is warm in the summer and the skiing is great in the winter.” ‘Received’ cyclical global prices, as in the oil and gas sector, alternately encourages corporate and individual entrepreneurial spirit through firm hiring patterns. The downturn since 2008, and forthcoming years, may show whether the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of the Calgary CMA sustains major fluctuations in world commodity prices, environmental pressures on resource extraction, and global economic uncertainty. Finally, socio cultural diversity attempts to capture factors associated with Florida’s (2002a) influential work. In the context of this study, such factors may be under-reported because they are not readily conducive to everyday conversation. Interview data only weakly indicates positive importance of these factors either by direct reference or by supporting inference. This result is consistent with Shearmur’s (2007) interpretation of migration data in that creative talent is attracted to economic growth rather than the reverse. Our results could be interpreted as consistent with Shearmur’s view, but this is not necessarily a clear and compelling reading. The qualitative considerations emphasized in comments on natural environment and comments on professional and personal networks, along with the overall complexity of perceptions and expressed motives, do not provide clear indication of a simple pull of economic opportunity and economic growth. Regression analysis on sizes of population classes or migration data alone provide limited information about causal factors. By the same token, simple explanatory propositions may mislead by suppressing diversity and complex context factors. The indicators employed in this case study provide an accessible tool to quantitatively assess the qualitative data generated through interviews. They, too, have limits and may not be fully generalizable in their application. Application of analogous methodology to other cases seems quite promising but we must emphasize the complexities associated with context. Context is critical and there is no cookie-cutter approach to administering this type of analysis across multiple regions. The main lesson from this study and our observations is this: motives are complex and highly context dependent. This reveals individual patterns of thought. A balance of personal factors and individual perceptions determines each interviewee’s overall expressed attitude about attraction and retention of innovative workers in the CMA. Acknowledgements The authors’ wish to acknowledge the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for their funding

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through the Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) Innovation Systems Research Network (ISRN). Additionally, thank you to the members of the Calgary team who participated in interviews and contributed to discussions on this topic. Appendix A. Interview questions 1. Please describe your employment history (firm/organization, location, sector, position) follow up [probe issues of volition, challenges that workers have faced]. a. In the case where there was a succession of jobs, why? b. Where such changes voluntary or not? c. What attributes of the cities help to minimize risk associated with losing one’s job (role of social networks, location, policies)? 2. To what extent have you moved between different kinds of sectors or occupations? a. To what extent does the [city name] economy enable this kind of mobility and the kinds of opportunities available? b. To what extent do you apply knowledge gained from working in other industries or firms in your current work? 3. What characteristics of the [city name] economy and/ or labour market make it an attractive place to work in your field? Follow up on the following aspects: a. Degree to which [city name] is a city characterized by an ‘openness’ to experimentation and creativity? b. Cutting edge work in field? c. Degree to which [city name] is a tolerant/welcoming place (i.e. in terms of race/ethnicity/sexuality/gender equality in their field)? 4. What characteristics of the [city name] economy and/ or labour market undermine its attractiveness as a place to work in your field? a. Have you encountered discrimination in [city name] in your field? b. In the city more broadly? (Lack of business/employment opportunities? Lack of ‘buzz’ in your field? Weakness of creative networks? Lack of cooperation and community in your field? Lack of innovation, experimentation, ‘cutting edge’ work in your field?) 5. What characteristics of living in [city name] make it an attractive place for you? (Possible issues to follow up on: natural and/or built environment? Recreational amenities? Cultural amenities? Architecture? Institutions? Social networks? Restaurants? Multicultural diversity? Clean environment? Local politics? Quality of public schools? Safety? How appealing is this city as a place to raise a child? Affordability?) 6. Are there particular aspects of [city name] that enhance creativity in the city?

a. In what ways does it facilitate creativity (or not)? b. To what extent are Calgary’s strengths unique to the city or are they related to Canadian institutions and values more generally? c. To what extent do your professional creative activities benefit from your professional and personal networks in Calgary or abroad? 7. What characteristics of [city name] reduce its attractiveness as a place in which to live? (Follow up on same issues as in previous question) References
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