The Silicon Valley Project


Original Silicon Valley orchards maintained by the Packard Estate.
Photo credit: 
photo by Jurvetson (flickr)


Senior Fellow, Emeritus
  • Professor, Management, Emeritus
  • Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Emeritus



The Silicon Valley Project at Stanford Graduate School of Business focuses on the dynamics, transformation and sustainability of Silicon Valley. From semiconductors to social media, Silicon Valley has evolved through many changes in core technologies, industry structure, leading companies, modes of finance, business models, and global relationships. And not just in informational technologies but also in biotech and more recently green tech. The Valley has persisted (and some would argue increased) in its ability to create and re-create its leading edge. Yet, serious challenges now plague the Valley, such as dysfunctional California politics and rapidly rising regions around the globe that are vying for talent and capital. What are the features that enable Silicon Valley to be a world center for creating growth and value over time?

The purpose of the Silicon Valley Project is to conduct research and to convene leading experts to advance the understanding and practice of how Silicon Valley and successful high tech regions form, evolve and advance over time in the rapidly changing global economy.

Key Questions

  • What are the fundamentals that enable Silicon Valley’s adaptability?
  • What lessons, if any, can be adjusted and applied to other places that are pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship? What insights can be gained to explain why some regions have failed, despite massive investments and seemingly similar features?
  • Are the Valley’s institutions, strategies, and practices effective in the past appropriate for today’s growth in social media, clean energy, etc.?
  • What are current vulnerabilities for the Valley? How well is it adjusting to face challenges to sustain its leadership?
  • How are other regions defining new models for regional development?
  • How must Silicon Valley—and other leading regions--transform in the face of growing global competition and collaboration?


Focus for 2012-13: INNOVATION TALENT

The core engine of the Valley—and any leading innovation center around the world—is talent. Talent profiles of leading regions are marked by the following attributes:

  • high concentration of highly intelligent and motivated individuals
  • an ecosystem and management practices which empower and give incentives for people to innovate and be highly productive—a risk-reward relationship that makes it safe to fail
  • critical mass of talent with complimentary skill sets and perspectives across a wide diversity of disciplines, industries and geographies which contribute to creativity
  • culture of collaboration and dynamic flexibility for talent to combine—and recombine—in new teams, new firms, new networks
  • global ties to key markets, production centers, and concentrations of talent around the world

Signs point to changes among these essential drivers of the talent engine in Silicon Valley. The focus for the first phase of the project will be on threats and opportunities for Silicon Valley to attract, develop, enable, and combine the best innovative and entrepreneurial talent from around the world.

Activities and Outcomes

The Silicon Valley Project and its affiliates will conduct interdisciplinary and international research, including collection and analysis of new data, interviews, and case studies. Mobilizing existing and new collaborations with leading faculty across Stanford and other universities, policymakers, business executives and thought leaders, the project will organize a series of seminars and symposia at Stanford University. Roundtables will convene experts in relevant areas such as innovation, venture capital, entrepreneurship, university-industry collaboration, political economy, etc.

This project will lead to refinement of an analytical framework, new data collection and analysis, creation of case studies, and publication of a series of White Papers as well as a new book. Meetings will also facilitate peer-to-peer sharing of best practices. Through publications, workshops, and forums, project findings, implications and recommendations will be shared with leaders from government, business, and academia not only in the Valley but also across the US, Europe, and Asia.

About SPRIE and its Leadership

The directors and academic leaders of the project will be William F. Miller and Henry S. Rowen and Associate Director Marguerite Gong Hancock. Drawing on years of combined experience both as academics and leaders in the public and private sectors, this trio of directors serve as educators at Stanford for international policy and business leaders as well as advisors to government leaders on both regional and national levels in the US, Europe, and Asia.

For more than a decade, the Silicon Valley Project has been dedicated to the advancement of the understanding and practice of innovation and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and leading high tech regions, especially in Asia. SPRIE books include The Silicon Valley Edge (Stanford University Press, 2000), Making IT: The Rise of Asia in High Tech (2006) and Greater China’s Quest for Innovation (2008). Publications have affected people in many countries through editions published in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Through international and interdisciplinary research, publications, executive education, and conferences, the Silicon Valley Project impacts the arenas of academia, policy, and business.