IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Geographical proximity and circulation of knowledge through inter-firm cooperation

  • André Torre


  • Delphine Gallaud


The production of scientific and technological innovations has become essential for many firms, but the latter are seldom in possession of all the knowledge needed for this activity because of the increasing complexity of knowledge bases or because R&D departments are too small. As they do not possess internally all the skills they need, firms wishing to innovate have recourse to external sources, such as cooperation with other firms or public organizations of research. However, acquiring external knowledge is not sufficient; one must also be able to use it in a specific process of production, to transform it into organizational routines, because it is important not only to integrate this knowledge, but ideally to use it to produce new knowledge. This process of creation, re-creation or imitation of new resources not only necessitates several technical and organizational adaptations, but also requires frequent relations of cooperation and partnership. The integration of new knowledge cannot be done in one go, but progressively during the course of the innovation projects, which implies that relations be sustained for a period of time. But the interests of the participants to this interactive process, as well as their opinions concerning technical issues sometimes vary or diverge. This is why co-operations are also sources of tensions and conflicts that jeopardize the adaptation of knowledge produced somewhere else to the context of the firm or even completely hinder the innovation process. In this paper, we try to provide some answers to the following question: What is the role played by geographical and organized proximities in the context of these external acquisitions of knowledge? In other words, can they help reduce the intensity of conflicts and thus facilitate the interactive process of innovations? First, we present shortcomings of innovation theory and works on spillovers claiming the importance of geographical proximity for circulation of knowledge without considering organizational prerequisites to reach this impact. Having explained the relevance of permanent as well as temporary geographical proximity, we will then turn to a discussion of conflicts between cooperators within innovation processes from a theoretical as well as an empirical perspective. The empirical study is based on a case study of French biotechnology firms and will serve to prove our hypothesis that temporary geographical proximity play an important role in preventing and resolving conflicts between innovators.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa04p35.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa04p35
Contact details of provider: Postal: Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa04p35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.