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Proximity and Innovation: A Critical Assessment

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  • Ron Boschma

Abstract

Boschma R. A. (2005) Proximity and innovation: a critical assessment, Regional Studies39, 61-74. A key issue in economic geography is to determine the impact of geographical proximity on interactive learning and innovation. We argue that the importance of geographical proximity cannot be assessed in isolation, but should always be examined in relation to other dimensions of proximity that may provide alternative solutions to the problem of coordination. We claim that geographical proximity per se is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for learning to take place. Nevertheless, it facilitates interactive learning, most likely by strengthening the other dimensions of proximity. However, proximity may also have negative impacts on innovation due to the problem of lock-in. Accordingly, not only too little, but also too much proximity may be detrimental to interactive learning and innovation. This may be the case for all five dimensions of proximity discussed in the paper, i.e. cognitive, organizational, social, institutional and geographical proximity. Finally, the paper presents a number of mechanisms that offer, by their own, or in combination, solutions to the problems of coordination and lock-in. That is, they enhance effective coordination and control (solving the problem of too little proximity), while they prevent actors to become locked-in through ensuring openness and flexibility (solving the problem of too much proximity). Boschma R. A. (2005) La proximite et l'innovation: une evaluation, Regional Studies39, 61-74. Dans la geographie economique, la determination de l'impact de la proximite geographique sur l'apprentissage interactif et l'innovation est capitale. Cet article affirme que l'on ne peut evaluer l'importance de la proximite geographique isolement. Plutot, on devrait l'examiner toujours par rapport a d'autres dimensions de la proximite qui pourraient fournir des reponses alternatives a la question de la coordination. On affirme que la proximite geographique en soi ne constitue une condition ni prealable, ni suffisante, pour que l'apprentissage ait lieu. Neanmoins, elle facilite l'apprentissage interactif en renforcant, tres vraisemblablement, les autres dimensions de la proximite. Cependant, il se peut que la proximite ait des retombees negatives sur l'innovation, a cause du probleme de l'enfermement. Par la suite, non seulement trop peu de proximite, mais aussi trop de proximite pourraient s'averer nuisibles a l'apprentissage interactif et a l'innovation. Cela vaudrait pour toutes les cinq dimensions de la proximite presentees dans cet article, a savoir la proximite cognitive, organisationnelle, sociale, institutionnelle et geographique. Pour finir, on presente quelques mecanismes qui fournissent, independamment ou conjointement, des reponses aux problemes de la coordination et de l'enfermement. C'est-a-dire, ils font valoir la coordination et le controle effectifs (ce qui repond a la possibilite qu'il y ait trop peu de proximite), tout en empechant l'enfermement des agents en assurant l'ouverture et la flexibilite (ce qui repond a la possibilite qu'il y ait trop de proximite). Boschma R. A. (2005) Nahe und Innovation: eine kritische Beurteilung, Regional Studies39, 61-74. Vom Standpunkt der Wirtschaftsgeographie gesehen, spielt die Bestimmung der Auswirkung geographischer Nahe auf interaktives Lernen und Innovation eine Schlusselrolle. Der Autor vertritt die Auffassung, dass die Bedeutung der geographischen Nahe nicht isoliert werden kann, sondern immer in Bezug auf andere Dimensionen der Nahe untersucht werden sollte, die alternative Losungen fur das Problem der Koordination liefern konnten. Der Autor behauptet, dass geographische Nahe an sich weder eine notwendige noch eine ausreichende Bedingung dafur ist, dass Erwerb von Kenntnissen stattfindet. Nichtsdestoweniger erleichtert es interaktives Lernen, hochstwahrscheinlich dank Festigung der anderen Dimensionen der Nahe. Das Problem des Sich-gebunden-fuhlens kann sich jedoch auch negativ auf Innovation auswirken. Dementsprechend kann sich nicht nur zu wenig Nahe, sondern auch zu viel Nahe nachteilig auf interaktives Lernen und Innovation auswirken. Dies konnte auf alle funf in diesem Aufsatz besprochenen Dimensionen der Nahe zutreffen, d.h. auf kognitive, organisatorische, gesellschaftliche, institutionelle und geographische Nahe. Abschliessend werden verschiedene Mechanismen vorgestellt, die selbst oder in Verbindung mit anderen, Losungen fur die Probleme der Koordination und Bindungen anbieten. Das heisst, sie bestarken effektive Koordination und Steuerung (und losen damit das Problem zu geringer Nahe), und verhindern zugleich, dass Spieler in Bindungen geraten, indem sie Offenheit und Flexibilitat garantieren (das Problem ubermassiger Nahe losen). Boschma R. A. (2005) Proximidad e innovacion: un examen critico, Regional Studies39, 61-74. Uno de los asuntos clave dentro de lo que es la geografia economica es determinar el impacto que la proximidad geografica tiene en el aprendizaje interactivo y en la innovacion. Argumentamos que la importancia de la proximidad geografica es un hecho que no se puede examinar de forma aislada, si no que siempre deberia ser analizado en relacion a otras dimensiones de proximidad que pueden ofrecer soluciones alternativas al problema de co-operacion. Sostenemos que la proximidad geografica per se no es una condicion ni necesaria ni suficiente para que el aprendizaje tenga lugar. No obstante, facilita el aprendizaje interactivo, con mayor probabilidad mediante el reforzamiento de las otras dimensiones de proximidad. Sin embargo, la proximidad tambien puede tener impactos negativos en la innovacion, debido al problema de lock-in. Asi pues, no solo una escasa proximidad, sino tambien una proximidad excesiva puede perjudicar el aprendizaje interactivo y la innovacion. Esto puede ser el caso en lo que respecta a las cinco dimensiones de proximidad que se discuten en este articulo, esto es, proximidad cognitiva, organizacional, social, institucional y geografica. Por ultimo, exponemos una serie de mecanismos que ofrecen, o bien por si solos o en combinacion, soluciones a los problemas de coordinacion y de lock-in. Esto es, mejoran la coordinacion efectiva y el control (solucionando asi el problema de escasa proximidad), mientras que previenen que los actores se vuelvan locked-in mediante la garantizacion de claridad y flexibilidad (solucionando asi el problema de proximidad excesiva).

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Regional Studies.

Volume (Year): 39 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 61-74

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Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:39:y:2005:i:1:p:61-74

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Related research

Keywords: Proximity; Innovation; Geography; Networks; Learning;

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