KIBS and industrial development of cities.Labour mobility, innovation and client interaction
The paper departs from a seemingly disagreement between theoretical propositions stressing the importance of the KIBS sector as an innovation agent, and empirical results from quantitative innovation surveys. KIBS are increasingly seen to have a strategic role in stimulating innovation processes, particularly in large cities. However, the alleged importance of KIBS does not show up in empirical surveys. The surveys generally regard KIBS (or consultancy firms) to be of less importance as information sources and innovation partners. The paper somewhat supports the conclusions from the empirical surveys, pointing to the fact that parts of the literature attach larger importance to the role of KIBS in innovation processes than can be confirmed by empirical results. However, the low importance attached to KIBS in quantitative surveys may rely on the fact that surveys only seize some of the roles played by KIBS in innovation processes. Surveys do not map, for example, knowledge spillovers occurring through the mobility of workers. The paper demonstrates that many workers left the KIBS sector in Norway to start working in other sectors during parts of the 1990s, signifying a flow of knowledge following the workers out of the KIBS sector. However, the paper also demonstrates that the flow of knowledge via labour mobility first of all benefits the most central parts of Norway. Less knowledge is seen to flow from the KIBS sector in Oslo and the other large cities to other industries and other parts of the country.
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