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Focal Firms as Technological Gatakeepers within Industrial Districts Knowledge Creation and Dissemination in the Italian Packaging Machinery Industry

  • Alessandro Malipiero
  • Federico Munari
  • Maurizio Sobrero

Despite the diffusion of communication tools and boundary spanning technologies, knowledge flows in innovation processes retain a distinct localized nature in many industries and geographical clusters emerge as critical areas to foster technological diffusion. In this paper we focus on the role of focal firms in industrial clusters as “gatekeepers” introducing external technological novelties in the cluster and enacting new useful knowledge production locally, thus enhancing international competitive capabilities of all firms in the cluster. We analyze a longitudinal dataset of 720 patents 1 Corresponding Author granted by USPTO between 1990 and 2003 to firms in the automatic packaging machinery industrial district of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy, and a matched-sample to control for the uneven geographical distribution of R&D and patenting activities. Our results show that firms within the cluster use local knowledge to a greater extent and more rapidly than knowledge from the outside than it would be expected given the geographic distribution of innovative activity in the industry. Moreover, focal firms use external knowledge to a greater extent than other firms operating in the cluster, and other (non focal) firms within the cluster use knowledge from focal firms to a greater extent than would be expected given the geographic distribution of innovative activity in the industry. Implications for research on the geographical distribution of innovation activities are discussed.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 05-05.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:05-05
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