The Industrial District's Influence on the Innovative Process: The Case of the Spanish Plastics Industry
In the last decades numerous studies on industrial districts have proved how concentrations of small firms located in the same area and specialized in the production of the same products contribute to the competitiveness and the economic development of this type of areas. In the recent years several works have emphasized the innovative capacity generated in these areas, in which the proximity of related industries has sustained processes of generation and diffusion of knowledge. Specifically, the marshallian concept of industrial atmosphere, the continuous linkages among firms and the processes of cooperation and competition between firms and local agents are elements that can generate competitive advantages for the firms located inside an industrial district. In addition, these elements also promote the generation of specific knowledge and localized knowledge spillovers and innovative processes. In the plastics industry, the high level of competitiveness, the high level of diversification and the flexibility to attend the demand of different industrial sectors are factors that can explain the great innovation effort and the sector dynamism to search for new business opportunities. The aim of this work is to analyze the characteristics of the innovative plastics firms in Spain and to explore if the belonging to an industrial district promote the innovative processes and increase firms' innovation performance. To achieve this objective, the results from a survey made it to a sample of plastics firms in Spain will be analyzed. In addition, this work investigates if there are differences in the characteristics of the innovative firms depending on their location inside or outside an industrial district. This empirical analysis contributes to enhance the knowledge about the innovative processes carried out in the industrial districts and provides evidence about the impact of the spatial agglomeration of specialized firms on the innovative capacity.
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