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Tacit Knowledge, Innovation and Economic Geography


  • Jeremy R. L. Howells

    (Policy Research in Engineering, Science & Technology (PREST), University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK,


The aim of this paper is to outline the importance of tacit knowledge in the innovation process and to highlight the way that geographical location not only influences the relationship between knowledge and innovative activity, but also affects the way that such interaction influences the geography of innovation and economic activity. After a discussion about the nature of knowledge, the paper explores the relationship that exists between knowledge and geography. The paper then reviews, using as an analytical lens, the growing body of literature on knowledge spillovers which affirm the importance of geography. However, the discussion then seeks to outline some crucial gaps that remain in our conceptualisation of the knowledge spillover and transfer process. The paper then highlights the neglected role of knowledge demand and consumption in a spatial context, before concluding with a review of areas for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy R. L. Howells, 2002. "Tacit Knowledge, Innovation and Economic Geography," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 39(5-6), pages 871-884, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:39:y:2002:i:5-6:p:871-884

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    Cited by:

    1. Hamidi, Shima & Zandiatashbar, Ahoura & Bonakdar, Ahmad, 2019. "The relationship between regional compactness and regional innovation capacity (RIC): Empirical evidence from a national study," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 394-402.
    2. Tai-Shan Hu, 2006. "Interaction among High-tech Talent and its Impact on Innovation Performance: A Comparison of Taiwanese Science Parks at Different Stages of Development," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 163-187, September.
    3. Harald Strotmann & Andreas Koch, 2005. "Determinants of Innovative Activity in Newly Founded Knowledge Intensive Business Service Firms," IAW Discussion Papers 21, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
    4. Peter Karl Kresl, 2014. "A development officer's guide to clusters," Chapters, in: Pengfei Ni & Zheng Qiongjie (ed.),Urban Competitiveness and Innovation, chapter 12, pages 203-217, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Michael Bentlage & Matthias Dorner & Alain Thierstein, 2015. "The knowledge economy and the economic crisis in Germany. Regional development, structural change and labor market regions," ERSA conference papers ersa15p978, European Regional Science Association.
    6. Martin M�ller & Allison Stewart, 2016. "Does Temporary Geographical Proximity Predict Learning? Knowledge Dynamics in the Olympic Games," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(3), pages 377-390, March.
    7. Tuomo Uotila & Vesa Harmaakorpi & Raine Hermans, 2011. "Finnish Mosaic of Regional Innovation System—Assessment of Thematic Regional Innovation Platforms Based on Related Variety," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(10), pages 1583-1602, July.
    8. Nicole Litzel & Joachim Möller, 2011. "Industrial Clusters and Economic Integration: Theoretic Concepts and an Application to the European Metropolitan Region Nuremberg," Chapters, in: Miroslav N. Jovanović (ed.),International Handbook on the Economics of Integration, Volume II, chapter 12, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Daniele Mascia & Francesca Pallotti & Federica Angeli, 2017. "Don’t stand so close to me: competitive pressures, proximity and inter-organizational collaboration," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(9), pages 1348-1361, September.
    10. Stefan Luethi & Alain Thierstein & Michael Bentlage, 2011. "Interlocking firm networks in the German knowledge economy. On local networks and global connectivity," ERSA conference papers ersa10p120, European Regional Science Association.
    11. Charlene Zietsma & Trish Ruebottom & Angelique Slade Shantz, 2018. "Unobtrusive Maintenance: Temporal Complexity, Latent Category Control and the Stalled Emergence of the Cleantech Sector," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(7), pages 1242-1277, November.

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