Abstract: Why Is There No Silicon Valley in New Jersey? A Tale of Two High-Tech Regions

Stephen B. Adams


In 1965, Frederick Terman accepted a consulting assignment from a consortium of New Jersey businessmen to provide a blueprint for a university to spur regional high-tech development. Given that Terman had helped make Stanford the educational anchor of a noted center of high-tech activity, it appears that his clients wanted to replicate in New Jersey the model he personified. That being the case, the logical question for the consultant to ask at the outset would be: "Why is there no Silicon Valley in New Jersey?" Terman never asked that question, but we can learn from exploring it. By comparing the experiences of the two regions, we learn, among other things, the significance of the evolutionary process of industrial clusters; that clusters may not fit neatly into descriptive categories; and that Terman's ends versus means were not what have been generally assumed: The "father of Silicon Valley" was less interested in using a university to promote regional economic growth than in using the promise of regional economic growth to build the university he wanted.