When Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship Professor Myles Shaver first moved to Minnesota, he was struck by the number of large companies having their headquarters in the Twin Cities. “The realization of what a dynamic business community there is here was quite a surprise,” he says. “Nobody knows it—it’s a surprise to everyone when I talk to my colleagues around the world.”

Shaver, the Pond Family Chair in the Teaching and Advancement of Free Enterprise Principles, was so intrigued by this facet of Minnesota that he spent time researching why it was so. He has assembled his discoveries into his first book, Headquarters Economy—Managers, Mobility, and Migration, to be published this year by Oxford University Press.

“A headquarters economy is where we have a region that has a high concentration of headquarters from a variety of different industries,” he says. The Twin Cities is the 16th largest metropolitan area in the country and has one of the largest counts of Fortune 500 headquarters—17. “On a per capita basis, it’s arguably the most headquarter-heavy area of the country,” Shaver says.

There are also what Shaver calls “hidden headquarters,” such as Wells Fargo, Thomson Reuters, Boston Scientific, and now Ireland-based Medtronic. “Although their corporate headquarters are elsewhere, they provide thousands of high-paying jobs for our economy.”

Why has the Twin Cities been such a headquarters magnet? “The key issue comes down to management,” he says. “We have a deep pool of talented professional managers in the city who tend to stay here and move from company to company across industries.”

Shaver’s research shows that management is an important engine for developing economic success and social vibrancy. “In the book, I document the experience of a number of individuals in town who work in different industries over their careers,” he says. “One of the important things I show is the skills they have and the experience they have are not only transferable across industries, but are important to the companies they go to. They bring skills to the companies that they would not otherwise get.”

 

This feature originally appeared in the Spring 2018 Carlson School Alumni Magazine.