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Gatekeepers of Knowledge within Industrial Districts: Who They Are, How They Interact


  • Andrea Morrison


Morrison A. Gatekeepers of knowledge within industrial districts: who they are, how they interact, Regional Studies. Studies on industrial districts suggest that their innovative performance is strictly linked to their ability to absorb external knowledge. Yet, the existing literature provides few insights into the functioning of this process. This paper, focusing on leader firms located in a successful Italian furniture district, investigates whether they feed the district with knowledge absorbed from external sources, thereby behaving as 'gatekeepers of knowledge'. Findings show that leader firms are well connected with knowledge sources; yet, linkages with districts firms are far more limited as are informal exchanges that, when they do occur, are mostly restricted to generic information. [image omitted] Morrison A. Les gardiens du savoir dans les regions industrielles: qui sont-ils, comment interagissent-ils?, Regional Studies. De recentes etudes sur les regions industrielles suggerent que leurs performances en matiere d'innovation sont strictement liees a leur capacite a absorber le savoir exterieur. Neanmoins, la litterature existante fournit peu d'eclaircissements quant au fonctionnement de ce processus. Cet article, axe sur des societes leaders situees dans une region d'Italie ou l'industrie de l'ameublement est prospere, examine si ces societes alimentent la region en savoir assimile aupres de sources exterieures, se comportant ce faisant en gardiens du savoir. Les resultats montrent que ces societes leaders sont bien connectees aux sources de savoir; neanmoins, les liens avec les entreprises de la region sont beaucoup plus limites que ne le sont les echanges informels qui, lorsqu'ils interviennent effectivement, se limitent pour l'essentiel a des informations generiques. Flux de savoir Regions industrielles Societes leaders Communaute de techniciens Industrie de l'ameublement Region de Murge Morrison A. Wissensregulatoren in Industriebezirken: Wer sie sind und in welcher Wechselwirkung sie zueinander stehen, Regional Studies. Aus den neuesten Studien uber Industriebezirke geht hervor, dass die innovative Leistung dieser Bezirke stark von ihrer Fahigkeit abhangt, externes Wissen zu absorbieren. Die Funktionsweise dieses Prozesses wurde in der Literatur hingegen bisher nur selten untersucht. In diesem Beitrag konzentrieren wir uns auf fuhrende Firmen in einem erfolgreichen italienischen Mobelindustriebezirk und untersuchen, ob diese Firmen den Bezirk mit Wissen aus externen Quellen anreichern und somit als Wissensregulatoren auftreten. Die Ergebnisse lassen darauf schliessen, dass fuhrende Firmen gut mit Wissensquellen verknupft sind. Die Verknupfungen zu den Firmen des Bezirks sind jedoch weitaus starker eingeschrankt; dasselbe gilt fur den informellen Austausch, der - wenn er uberhaupt auftritt - sich meist auf generelle Informationen beschrankt. Wissensstrome Industriebezirke Fuhrende Firmen Gemeinschaft der Fachleute Mobelindustrie Region Murge Morrison A. Guardianes del conocimiento en comarcas industriales: quienes son y como interactuan, Regional Studies. En recientes estudios se ha observado que el rendimiento innovador de las comarcas industriales esta estrictamente vinculado a su capacidad de absorber conocimiento externo. Sin embargo, la literatura presente ofrece pocas perspectivas en cuanto al funcionamiento de este proceso. En este ensayo me centro en empresas lideres ubicadas en una comarca italiana conocida por su exitosa industria del mueble e investigo si estas empresas proporcionan a la comarca conocimientos absorbidos de fuentes externas y si entonces se comportan como guardianes del conocimiento. Los resultados indican que si bien las empresas lideres estan bien conectadas con fuentes de conocimiento, los enlaces con empresas de la comarca estan mucho mas limitados que los intercambios informales que, aunque ocurren, estan principalmente restringidos a informacion generica. Flujos de conocimiento Comarcas industriales Empresas lideres Comunidad de tecnicos Industria del mueble Region de Murge

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Morrison, 2008. "Gatekeepers of Knowledge within Industrial Districts: Who They Are, How They Interact," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(6), pages 817-835.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:42:y:2008:i:6:p:817-835
    DOI: 10.1080/00343400701654178

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. R. Paci & E. Batteta, 2003. "Innovation Networks and Knowledge Flows across the European Regions," Working Paper CRENoS 200313, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    2. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco, 2001. "Knowledge Spillovers and Local Innovation Systems: A Critical Survey," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 975-1005, December.
    3. Andrea Morrison, 2005. "Inside the Black Box of ‘Industrial Atmosphere’: Knowledge and Information Networks in an Italian wine local system," Working Papers 97, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
    4. Michael L. Tushman & Ralph Katz, 1980. "External Communication and Project Performance: An Investigation into the Role of Gatekeepers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(11), pages 1071-1085, November.
    5. Breschi, Stefano & Malerba, Franco, 2001. "The Geography of Innovation and Economic Clustering: Some Introductory Notes," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 817-833, December.
    6. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-596, September.
    7. DeBresson, Chris & Amesse, Fernand, 1991. "Networks of innovators :A review and introduction to the issue," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 363-379, October.
    8. Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-253, June.
    9. Lissoni, Francesco, 2001. "Knowledge codification and the geography of innovation: the case of Brescia mechanical cluster," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1479-1500, December.
    10. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni, 2001. "articles: Localised knowledge spillovers vs. innovative milieux: Knowledge "tacitness" reconsidered," Papers in Regional Science, Springer;Regional Science Association International, vol. 80(3), pages 255-273.
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    More about this item


    Knowledge flows; Industrial districts; Leader firms; Community of technicians; Furniture industry; Murge region;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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