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Spatial and Sectoral Characteristics of Relational Capital in Innovation Activity


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  • Roberta Capello



The paper presents prima facie evidence of the role of relational capital in innovation activities, and underlines the spatial and sectoral difference of the effects of relational capital on innovation processes. Relational cpaital is defined in this paper as the intensity of information and knowledge exchange measured through the intensity of cooperation among local actors. The paper is structured in two parts. In the first part, a review on the literature is presented, and the similarities and differences between the concept of relational capital and the more common knowledge spillovers is underlined. In the second part, the empirical results of the analysis is presented; the empirical analysis is based on a database built at the firm level, located both in urban and non-urban areas. The database consists of 89 observations, developed in three urban areas (La Spezia, Genova and Savona) and three specialised areas in Liguria, an Italian region. With a quantitative approach, the paper replies to the following key questions: - is relational capital a determinant for innovation activities? - If it is so, does it have the same role in urban and non urban areas? - Does it have a different role in specialised and despecialised areas? The empirical results to these questions help in understanding whether it is true that competitive city regions in the global economy are the major locations for relatively exclusive knowledge and learning resources. Our impression is that it is difficult to support this argument in general: if relational capital plays a role in innovation activities, it may very well be that its role strongly depends on the sectoral as well as the spatial characteristics in which the innovation process takes place. Non-urban areas characterised by strong local synergies and highly specialised activities may even be more facilitated in their inovation activity.

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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa01p220.

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Date of creation: Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa01p220

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  1. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-70, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Hans Westlund & Elin Nilsson, 2005. "Measuring enterprises' investments in social capital: A pilot study," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(8), pages 1079-1094.
  2. Laura de Dominicis & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Henri L.F. de Groot, 2013. "Regional clusters of innovative activity in Europe: are social capital and geographical proximity key determinants?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(17), pages 2325-2335, June.
  3. Yu-Shan Chen, 2008. "The Positive Effect of Green Intellectual Capital on Competitive Advantages of Firms," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 271-286, February.
  4. Matteo Migheli, 2013. "Relational capital, profitability and access to credit: evidence from a sample of Italian small firms," International Review of Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 221-233, June.
  5. Anna Bykova & Evgeniia Kuminova, 2013. "Did relational capital matter during the financial crisis?," HSE Working papers, National Research University Higher School of Economics WP BRP 23/FE/2013, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  6. Joshua Drucker, 2009. "Trends in Regional Industrial Concentration in the United States," Working Papers, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau 09-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.


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