Neighbourhood Spatial Order, the Local Economy and Firm Mobility in Urban Areas of the Netherlands


Urban residential neighbourhoods in the Netherlands increasingly function as incubation zones for small‐scale businesses. Despite this development, little is known about whether and how the local production environment in these neighbourhoods shapes firm mobility behaviour. This article studies how two aspects of the local production environment — the built neighbourhood environment and zoning regulations — affect firm mobility of small‐scale businesses in urban residential neighbourhoods. To achieve this aim, we contrast two sets of urban neighbourhoods, pre‐ and post‐second world war neighbourhoods with a comparable low socio‐economic profile, but with distinct built environments and zoning regulations. We combine quantitative and qualitative methods to analyse available trade register data from the Dutch regional Chambers of Commerce, study neighbourhood zoning regulations, and conduct focus‐group and individual interviews with neighbourhood experts and entrepreneurs. The local built environment and its regulations appear to have a small but significant effect on the firm mobility behaviour of entrepreneurs in the neighbourhoods studied. Relocation intentions are higher among entrepreneurs in post‐war than in pre‐war neighbourhoods, which may (in part) be attributed to less favourable local institutional settings for businesses, but actual firm mobility does not differ between these neighbourhoods.