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From 'industrial districts' to 'knowledge clusters': a model of knowledge dissemination and competitive advantage in industrial agglomerations


  • Steven Pinch
  • Nick Henry
  • Mark Jenkins
  • Stephen Tallman


This paper integrates knowledge-based theories of the firm with geograph-ical studies of industrial agglomeration to produce a model that helps explain the competitive advantages enjoyed by proximate firms located in geographical clusters. We propose a hierarchy of specialized knowledge stocks at both firm and cluster levels and suggest that the comparative advantage conferred by knowledge resources at each level is protected, in part, by asymmetries in knowledge flows from level to level. The paper argues that codified component knowledge is more easily spread than firm-specific architectural knowledge. Nevertheless, over time, agglomerations may develop a cluster-specific form of architectural knowledge that facilitates the rapid dissemination of knowledge throughout the cluster by increasing the learning capacity of proximate firms and thereby conferring cluster-specific competitive advantages. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

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  • Steven Pinch & Nick Henry & Mark Jenkins & Stephen Tallman, 2003. "From 'industrial districts' to 'knowledge clusters': a model of knowledge dissemination and competitive advantage in industrial agglomerations," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(4), pages 373-388, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:3:y:2003:i:4:p:373-388

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2006. "Mobility of inventors and the geography of knowledge spillovers. New evidence on US data," KITeS Working Papers 184, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Oct 2006.
    6. Anselin, Luc & Varga, Attila & Acs, Zoltan, 1997. "Local Geographic Spillovers between University Research and High Technology Innovations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 422-448, November.
    7. Laura Abramovsky & Rupert Harrison & Helen Simpson, 2007. "University Research and the Location of Business R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages 114-141, March.
    8. Roderik Ponds & Frank van Oort & Koen Frenken, 2007. "The geographical and institutional proximity of research collaboration," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(3), pages 423-443, August.
    9. Laura Abramovsky & Elisabeth Kremp & Alberto Lopez & Tobias Schmidt & Helen Simpson, 2009. "Understanding co-operative innovative activity: evidence from four European countries," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 243-265.
    10. Bruno Cassiman & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2002. "R&D Cooperation and Spillovers: Some Empirical Evidence from Belgium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1169-1184, September.
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    12. Karlsson, Charlie & Andersson, Martin, 2005. "The Location of Industry R&D and the Location of University R&D - How are They related?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 38, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hogenbirk, Annelies & Narula, Rajneesh, 2004. "Location and agglomeration of FDI in The Netherlands: implications for policy," Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Michael C. Carroll & Neil Reid, 2013. "Social capital and the development of industrial clusters: the northwest Ohio greenhouse cluster," Chapters,in: Handbook of Industry Studies and Economic Geography, chapter 13, pages 341-354 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Järvinen, Joonas & Lamberg, Juha-Antti & Pietinalho, Lauri, 2012. "The fall and the fragmentation of national clusters: Cluster evolution in the paper and pulp industry," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 218-241.
    4. Ph. D Daniela Fundeanu, 2015. "Development Clusters - A New Way To Innovate In The Romanian Economy," Revista Tinerilor Economisti (The Young Economists Journal), University of Craiova, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 1(25), pages 39-48, NOVEMBER.
    5. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2010. "Complexity Thinking and Evolutionary Economic Geography," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Robert Lewis, 2009. "Industrial districts and manufacturing linkages: Chicago's printing industry, 1880-1950 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(2), pages 366-387, May.
    7. Hallin, Christina & Holm, Ulf & Sharma, Dharma Deo, 2011. "Embeddedness of innovation receivers in the multinational corporation: Effects on business performance," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 362-373, June.
    8. Manuel Portugal Ferreira & Fernando Ribeiro Serra & Benny Kramer Costa & Emerson Maccari & Hergos Couto, 2013. "Impact of the types of clusters on the innovation output and the appropriation of rents from innovation," Working Papers 102, globADVANTAGE, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
    9. Imbert, Enrica & Morone, Piergiuseppe & Bigi, Francesca, 2016. "Assessing the potential of social enterprises through social network analysis: Evidence from Albania," MPRA Paper 78115, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Casanueva, Cristóbal & Castro, Ignacio & Galán, José L., 2013. "Informational networks and innovation in mature industrial clusters," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(5), pages 603-613.
    11. Gurrieri, Antonia Rosa, 2008. "Knowledge network dissemination in a family-firm sector," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2380-2389, December.
    12. Piergiuseppe Morone & Giuseppina Testa, 2005. "What Makes Small and Medium Enterprises Competitive," Quaderni DSEMS 18-2005, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Matematiche e Statistiche, Universita' di Foggia.
    13. Hervás Oliver, José Luís, 2015. "How do multinational enterprises co-locate in industrial districts? An introduction to the integration of alternative explanations from international business and economic geography literatures," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 32, pages 115-132.
    14. Anna Gerke & Geoff Dickson & Michel Desbordes & Stephen Gates, 2016. "Bouquets Are As Useful As Brickbats: The Influence Of Interorganizational Citizenship Behaviors On The Innovation Process," Post-Print hal-01337018, HAL.

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