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When Micro Shapes the Meso: Learning Networks in a Chilean Wine Cluster

Most analyses of the relationship between spatial clustering and the technological learning of firms have emphasised the influence of the former on the latter, and have focused on intra-cluster learning as the driver of innovative performance. This paper reverses those perspectives. It examines the influence of individual firms' absorptive capacities on both the functioning of the intra-cluster knowledge system and its interconnection with extra-cluster knowledge. It applies social network analysis to identify different cognitive roles played by cluster firms and the overall structure of the knowledge system of a wine cluster in Chile. The results show that knowledge is not diffused evenly 'in the air', but flows within a core group of firms characterised by advanced absorptive capacities. Firms' different cognitive roles include some - as in the case of technological gatekeepers - that contribute actively to the acquisition, creation and diffusion of knowledge. Others remain cognitively isolated from the cluster, though in some cases strongly linked to extra-cluster knowledge. Possible implications for policy are noted.

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File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/sewp115.pdf
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Paper provided by SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex in its series SPRU Working Paper Series with number 115.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Research Policy, Volume 34, Number 1, 2005, pp.47-68. (New title: The Micro-Determinants of Meso-Level Learning and Innovation: Evidence from a Chilean Wine Cluster)
Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:115
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