This paper compares and discusses the results of the research on mental maps of entrepreneurs conducted in three countries: Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The stated locational preferences of Italian, German and Dutch entrepreneurs and their underlying explanatory factors are analysed and compared, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The analysis points out that the three countries have some common characteristics regarding the patterns and the explanatory factors of the mental maps of their entrepreneurs. Examples are the centre–periphery dichotomy and the relevance of accessibility. One of the differences between the countries is the preference for large agglomerations that appears in the map image for Germany, a pattern that is less clear in the map image for Italy and the Netherlands. In some important respects, the results for Italy are different from those for the other two countries, as the North–South divide and organised crime apparently play an important role in the mental maps of entrepreneurs in this country.
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The arguments used in this paper are based on Musolino (2015).
Bounded rationality has become an important concept in behavioural economics (see e.g. Kahneman 2003).
The second and the third type are overlapping, as individuals may be asked to draw their knowledge of ‘objective’ conditions freehand. This problem is solved by the proposition of Székely and Kotosz (2018), who offer a typology of mental maps of existing geographical objects drawn on paper (‘strict mental maps’, ‘Lynch type’, ‘free sketch maps’). The ‘interpretative maps’ (Didelon et al. 2011), where the respondents are asked to draw regions, or rather the limits of these regions, on a map provided by the researcher, might be regarded as an example of the overlap mentioned above.
In the Netherlands, surveys at the national scale were conducted in 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2012.
‘very unfavourable’, ‘unfavourable’, ‘neutral’, ‘favourable’, ‘very favourable’.
The choice of the spatial elements to be rated, in terms of type and number, is an important methodological step in this type of research. The spatial elements should be homogeneous, representative and recognisable. Their number should not be too small, in order to be able to derive a sufficiently detailed image of the locational preferences, and not too large, because that would decrease the response rate, and the capability of the respondents to evaluate all elements would be under too much pressure. In Italy, the number of regions (NUTS2) is too small (20), and they do not offer a sufficiently disaggregated image of the Italian geography. Provinces offer a highly detailed picture of Italy, but their number is too large (110). Therefore, a method was designed in which, for every single region, the choice between rating only the region or also the provinces within it, was left to the respondents.
The same procedure has been followed for the Netherlands, where also four areas are distinguished. The calculation of the average ratings for each of the three areas in Italy (North, Centre, South) is based on regions (NUTS2).
For the principal component analysis presented in this section, the results of the survey in 1983 have been chosen for the Netherlands because of their clarity. The results for that survey are based on 388 usable forms.
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Musolino, D., Meester, W. & Pellenbarg, P. The mental maps of Italian, German and Dutch entrepreneurs: a comparative perspective. Ann Reg Sci 64, 595–613 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00168-019-00912-3