Industrial district effects and innovation in the Tuscan shipbuilding industry
The aim of the present work is to investigate innovative processes within a geographical cluster, and thus contribute to the debate on the effects of industrial clusters on innovation capacity. In particular, we would like to ascertain whether the advantages of industrial districts in promoting innovation, as already revealed by literature (diffusion of knowledge, social capital and trust, efficient networking), are also keys to success in the Tuscan shipbuilding industry of pleasure and sporting boats. First, we verify the existence of clusters of shipbuilding in Tuscany, using a specific methodology. Next, in the identified clusters, we analyse three innovative networks financed in a policy to support innovation, and examine whether the typical features of a cluster for promoting innovation are at work, using a questionnaire administered to 71 actors. Finally, we develop a performance analysis of the cluster firms and ascertain whether their different behaviours also lead to different performances. The analysis results show that our case records effects of industrial clustering on innovation capacity, such as the important role given to trust and social capital, the significant worth put in interfirm relations and in each partner’s specific competencies, or even the distinctive performance of firms belonging to a cluster.
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