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Knowledge Networks and Innovative Performance in an Industrial District: The Case of a Footwear District in the South of Italy

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  • Ron Boschma
  • Anne L. J. ter Wal

Abstract

The traditional district literature tends to assume that: (1) the competitiveness of firms depends on external sources of knowledge; (2) all firms in a district benefit from knowledge externalities; (3) relying on external knowledge relationships necessarily means these are confined to the district area. Our case study of the Barletta footwear district in the South of Italy suggests otherwise. Based on social network analysis, we demonstrate that the local knowledge network is quite weak and unevenly distributed among the local firms. A strong local network position of a firm tended to increase their innovative performance, and so did their connectivity to extra-local firms. So, it mattered being connected either locally or non-locally: being co-located was surely not enough. Having a high absorptive capacity seemed to raise only indirectly, through non-local relationships, the innovative performance of firms.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Industry and Innovation.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 177-199

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Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:14:y:2007:i:2:p:177-199

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Related research

Keywords: Knowledge networks; industrial districts; innovative performance; absorptive capacity; footwear industry;

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References

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  1. Ron A. Boschma, 2002. "Knowledge, Market Structure, and Economic Coordination: Dynamics of Industrial Districts," Growth and Change, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, vol. 33(3), pages 291-311.
  2. Bjørn Asheim, . "Industrial Districts as 'learning regions'. A condition for prosperity," STEP Report series 199503, The STEP Group, Studies in technology, innovation and economic policy.
  3. Cristina Boari & Andrea Lipparini, 1999. "Networks within Industrial Districts: Organising Knowledge Creation and Transfer by Means of Moderate Hierarchies," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 339-360, December.
  4. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco, 2000. "Knowledge Spillovers And Local Innovation Systems: A Critical Survey," ERSA conference papers ersa00p362, European Regional Science Association.
  5. Anders Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "The elusive concept of localization economies: towards a knowledge-based theory of spatial clustering," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(3), pages 429-449, March.
  6. Elisa Giuliani, 2005. "The Structure of Cluster Knowledge Networks Uneven, not Pervasive and Collective," DRUID Working Papers 05-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  7. Andrea Morrison, 2004. "Gatekeepers of knowledge within industrial districts:who they are, how they interact," KITeS Working Papers 163, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Nov 2004.
  8. Alessandro Malipiero & Federico Munari & Maurizio Sobrero, 2005. "Focal Firms as Technological Gatakeepers within Industrial Districts Knowledge Creation and Dissemination in the Italian Packaging Machinery Industry," DRUID Working Papers 05-05, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  9. Harald Bathelt & Andersand Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "Clusters and Knowledge Local Buzz, Global Pipelines and the Process of Knowledge Creation," DRUID Working Papers 02-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  10. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2003. "Mobility and Social Networks: Localised Knowledge Spillovers Revisited," KITeS Working Papers 142, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Mar 2003.
  11. Lissoni, Francesco, 2001. "Knowledge codification and the geography of innovation: the case of Brescia mechanical cluster," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1479-1500, December.
  12. Olivier Crevoisier, 2004. "The Innovative Milieus Approach: Toward a Territorialized Understanding of the Economy?," GRET Publications and Working Papers 10-04, GRET Group of Research in Territorial Economy, University of Neuchâtel.
  13. Andre Torre & Alain Rallet, 2005. "Proximity and Localization," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 47-59.
  14. Asheim, Bjorn T & Isaksen, Arne, 2002. " Regional Innovation Systems: The Integration of Local 'Sticky' and Global 'Ubiquitous' Knowledge," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 77-86, January.
  15. Ron Boschma, 2005. "Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 61-74.
  16. Shone,Ronald, 2002. "Economic Dynamics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521017039, April.
  17. Todtling, Franz & Kaufmann, Alexander, 2002. " SMEs in Regional Innovation Systems and the Role of Innovation Support--The Case of Upper Austria," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 15-26, January.
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