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Learning at the boundaries for industrial districts between exploitation of local resources and the exploration of global knowledge flows

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  • Fiorenza BELUSSI

    ()

  • Luciano PILOTTI

    ()

  • Silvia Rita SEDITA

    ()

Abstract

The work offers an integrated view on how knowledge is developed in localised systems of specialised firms (industrial districts - IDs), through informal social networks (communities of practice - CoPs), and firms networks, in an osmotic process between the internal to the district knowledge and the external to the district knowledge. Contrary to the Marshallian consolidated tradition, we describe the functioning of the modern industrial district emphasising not just the role of the local “industrial atmosphere”, but the modern aspect of “learning at the boundaries”, where local actors mix sources of knowledge located inside the district (exploitation of local resources) with external sources (exploration of global knowledge). Our empirical work, based on the analysis of three Italian industrial districts, shows that, in relation to the aspect of exploitation of local resources, the investment (both direct and indirect) of firms in augmenting their capabilities is juxtaposed to the activity organised by the district meta-organisers of cultivating local resources; furthermore, in relation to the exploration of global knowledge, internal/external switchers allow the exploration of global knowledge flows. It is a process that combines forms of localised learning with learning at the boundaries, through the access to pipelines (FDI, firms networks, distant KIBS) and boundary spanning actors (external CoPs).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2006-40.

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Date of creation: 16 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2006-40

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Keywords: Industrial Districts; Learning; Communities of Practice; Networks;

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  1. Chiarvesio, Maria & Di Maria, Eleonora & Micelli, Stefano, 2004. "From local networks of SMEs to virtual districts?: Evidence from recent trends in Italy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1509-1528, December.
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  9. Flaminio Squazzoni & Riccardo Boero, 2002. "Economic Performance, Inter-Firm Relations and Local Institutional Engineering in a Computational Prototype of Industrial Districts," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 5(1), pages 1.
  10. Zucchella, Antonella, 2006. "Local cluster dynamics: trajectories of mature industrial districts between decline and multiple embeddedness," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 21-44, April.
  11. Witt, Ulrich, 1998. "Imagination and leadership - The neglected dimension of an evolutionary theory of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 161-177, April.
  12. Alessia Amighini & Roberta Rabellotti, 2004. "How do Italian footwear industrial districts face globalization?," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 485-502, November.
  13. Herbert A. Simon, 2002. "Organizing and coordinating talk and silence in organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 611-618, June.
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