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Learning at the boundaries for industrial districts between exploitation of local resources and the exploration of global knowledge flows

  • Fiorenza BELUSSI

    ()

  • Luciano PILOTTI

    ()

  • Silvia Rita SEDITA

    ()

The work offers an integrated view on how knowledge is developed in localised systems of specialised firms (industrial districts - IDs), through informal social networks (communities of practice - CoPs), and firms networks, in an osmotic process between the internal to the district knowledge and the external to the district knowledge. Contrary to the Marshallian consolidated tradition, we describe the functioning of the modern industrial district emphasising not just the role of the local “industrial atmosphere”, but the modern aspect of “learning at the boundaries”, where local actors mix sources of knowledge located inside the district (exploitation of local resources) with external sources (exploration of global knowledge). Our empirical work, based on the analysis of three Italian industrial districts, shows that, in relation to the aspect of exploitation of local resources, the investment (both direct and indirect) of firms in augmenting their capabilities is juxtaposed to the activity organised by the district meta-organisers of cultivating local resources; furthermore, in relation to the exploration of global knowledge, internal/external switchers allow the exploration of global knowledge flows. It is a process that combines forms of localised learning with learning at the boundaries, through the access to pipelines (FDI, firms networks, distant KIBS) and boundary spanning actors (external CoPs).

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2006-40.

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Date of creation: 16 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2006-40
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  1. Ron A. Boschma & Anne L.W. ter Wal, 2006. "Knowledge networks and innovative performance in an industrial district. The case of a footwear district in the South of Italy," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0601, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Jan 2006.
  2. Herbert A. Simon, 2002. "Organizing and coordinating talk and silence in organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 611-618, June.
  3. Flaminio Squazzoni & Riccardo Boero, 2002. "Economic Performance, Inter-Firm Relations and Local Institutional Engineering in a Computational Prototype of Industrial Districts," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 5(1), pages 1.
  4. Chiarvesio, Maria & Di Maria, Eleonora & Micelli, Stefano, 2004. "From local networks of SMEs to virtual districts?: Evidence from recent trends in Italy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1509-1528, December.
  5. Alessia Amighini & Roberta Rabellotti, 2004. "How do Italian footwear industrial districts face globalization?," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 485-502, November.
  6. Cristiano Antonelli, 2000. "Collective Knowledge Communication and Innovation: The Evidence of Technological Districts," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 535-547.
  7. Giulio Cainelli & Donato Iacobucci & Enrica Morganti, 2004. "Spatial agglomeration and business groups: new evidence from Italian industrial districts," ERSA conference papers ersa04p402, European Regional Science Association.
  8. Kirsten Foss & Nicolai J. Foss, 2003. "Authority in the Context of Distributed Knowledge," DRUID Working Papers 03-08, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  9. Biggiero, Lucio, 2002. " The Location of Multinationals in Industrial Districts: Knowledge Transfer in Biomedicals," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 111-22, January.
  10. Zucchella, Antonella, 2006. "Local cluster dynamics: trajectories of mature industrial districts between decline and multiple embeddedness," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 21-44, April.
  11. Witt, Ulrich, 1998. "Imagination and leadership - The neglected dimension of an evolutionary theory of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 161-177, April.
  12. Audretsch, David B & Feldman, Maryann P, 1996. "R&D Spillovers and the Geography of Innovation and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 630-40, June.
  13. Harald Bathelt & Andersand Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "Clusters and Knowledge Local Buzz, Global Pipelines and the Process of Knowledge Creation," DRUID Working Papers 02-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  14. Argote, Linda & Ingram, Paul, 2000. "Knowledge Transfer: A Basis for Competitive Advantage in Firms," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 150-169, May.
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