Proximité et innovation
[eng] Proximity and innovation : some critical remarks - There is growing awareness that knowledge in general, and learning (or the capability to learn) in particular, may be critical to the competitive advantage of firms, regions and nations. In this respect, much has been written on the impact of 'proximity' on learning, knowledge creation and innovation. Broadly speaking, there is a general claim in the literature that the more proximity between actors (in whatever form), the more interaction, the more interactive learning, and the more innovation. . In thispaper, we take a rather critical stand towards this general claim. First of all, we need to clarify what is meant by the concept of proximity. Proximity means a lot more than just geography. It is a broad concept that incorporates similarity or adherence between actors or organizations. It includes both spatial and non-spatial dimensions. The non-spatial dimension is related to a broad category of cognitive, organizational, institutional and social aspects. These dimensions are often ill defined and, as a consequence, they show a great deal of overlap. In the paper, an attempt is made to define the notions of cognitive, organizational, social, institutional and geographical proximity in such a way, that such overlap is avoided and empirical measurement is made possible. . Secondly, the literature is basically right about stressing the importance of proximity for learning. However, it tends to overiook the fact that there may also be too much proximity involved, that is, proximity in its different fonns may also have negative effects on innovation (such as lock-in). This issue of positive versus negative aspects of proximity is a challenging one. When does proximity lead to good performance? We claim that it is likely there exists some kind of optimum of proximity. That is, there may be too little but also too much proximity which are both detrimental to interactive learning and innovation. For each of the five dimensions of proximity mentioned above, we discuss how this optimum of proximity may look like. Thirdly, it is quite common that each of the five dimensions of proximity are analyzed separately. In reality, different forms of proximity co-exist. One of the most exciting "research topics for the years to come is in what way are the different forms of proximity related to each other: are they substitutes or complements? There is littie understanding of possible combinations of these various forms. This paper sets out some preliminary ideas concerning this topic. [fre] Qu'est-ce que la proximité et quelles en sont les formes distinctes ? Dans cet article, après avoir clarifié ce concept, cinq formes de proximité sont d'abord présentées, qui répondent aux dimensions suivantes : cognitive, organisationnelle, sociale, institutionnelle et géographique. Pour chacune de ces cinq dimensions, sont ensuite analysés les impacts aussi bien positifs que négatifs de la proximité sur l'économie, en particulier sur l'apprentissage et l'innovation. Enfin, à partir de la constatation de l'existence de liens entre les différentes formes de proximité, on se demande quelles pourraient être les combinaisons possibles et de ces dernières dans le but d'améliorer les processus d'apprentissage et de production d'innovations. Quelques pistes de réflexion sont formulées à ce sujet.
Volume (Year): 280 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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