Social Capital and Effective Innovation in Industrial Districts: Dual Effect of Absorptive Capacity
This paper deals with the factors that affect the heterogeneity in the access to knowledge and its exploitation through innovation in firms located in industrial districts. The aim of the study is to analyze the moderating role of the components of the absorptive capacity – identification and combination – in the process that leads firms in industrial districts with social capital to obtain effective innovations through the knowledge acquisition. We have developed the empirical analysis on a sample of 166 firms located in the industrial districts of the footwear industry in Spain. Findings suggest that the firms in industrial districts improve the acquisition of novel and valuable knowledge from external networks of information when they have identification capabilities to explore their potential. The results also indicate combinative capability strengthens the acquired new knowledge to develop and exploit successful innovations.
Available from: Joris Knoben
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ABSTRACT: We build on recent literature to highlight the distinction between knowledge-diffusion and knowledge-creation benefits of technology clustering and argue that firms located in technology clusters will have differential access to the latter. To explain the antecedents of such differential access, we first argue that clustering gives rise to three knowledge-creation benefits: easier identification of potential knowledge partners with complementary knowledge, easier initiation of knowledge partnerships and increased effectiveness of knowledge partnerships. Subsequently, we develop a conceptual model and propositions that focus on a cluster firm's awareness of knowledge assets inside the cluster, attractiveness as a knowledge partner and ability to benefit from knowledge partnerships to explain differential access by firms to these three knowledge-creation benefits that clustering provides. This study highlights the theoretical significance of distinguishing externality-type benefits of technology clustering from benefits that firms need to actively pursue, and discusses implications for firms' location decisions.
Available from: Bárbara Larrañeta
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ABSTRACT: The implications of Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO) for firm performance in low- and medium-tech (LMT) industries are largely unexplored and seem to be limited. In this paper we seek to address this research gap studying how Absorptive Capacity can act as a key factor determining the effectiveness of EO in such a context. Specifically, we adopt the knowledge-based view of the firm and explore the moderating effects of Absorptive Capacity’s Potential and Realized dimensions on the EO–performance relationship in LMT industries. Our regression results based on a lagged dataset of 103 medium-sized firms based in Italy confirm our hypotheses that, in LMT industries, EO has a positive effect on firm performance when coupled with high levels of both Potential and Realized Absorptive Capacity.
Available from: Fernando G. Alberti
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ABSTRACT: Purpose – This paper aims at investigating the multifaceted nature of innovation networks by
focusing on two research questions: Do cluster actors exchange only one type of innovation-related
knowledge? Do cluster actors play different roles in innovation-related knowledge exchange?
Design/methodology/approach – This paper builds on data collected at the firm level in an Italian
aerospace cluster, that is a technology-intensive industry where innovation is at the base of local
competitiveness. A questionnaire was used to collect both attribute data and relational data concerning
collaboration and the flows of knowledge in innovation networks. The authors distinguished among
three types of knowledge (technological, managerial and market knowledge) and five types of
brokerage roles (coordinator, gatekeeper, liaison, representative and consultant). Data analysis relied on
social network analysis techniques and software.
Findings – Concerning the first research question, the findings show that different types of knowledge
flow in different ways in innovation networks. The different types of knowledge are unevenly
exchanged. The exchange of technological knowledge is open to everyone in the cluster. The exchange
of market and managerial knowledge is selective. Concerning the second research question, the authors
suggest that different types of cluster actors (large firms, small- and medium-sized enterprises, research
centers and universities and institutions for collaboration) do play different roles in innovation
networks, especially with reference to the three types of knowledge considered in this study.
Research limitations/implications – The present paper has some limitations. First of all, the
analysis focuses on just one cluster (one industry in one specific location), cross- and comparative
analyses with other clusters may illuminate the findings better, eliminating industry and geographical
biases. Second, the paper focuses only on innovation-related knowledge exchanges within the cluster
and not across it.
Practical implications – The results have practical implications both for policy makers and for
managers. First, this research stresses how innovation often originates from a combination of different
knowledge types acquired through the collaboration with heterogeneous cluster actors. Further, the
analysis of brokerage roles in innovation-driven collaborations may help policy makers in designing
programs for knowledge-transfer partnerships among the various actors of a cluster.
Social implications – The paper suggests a clear need of developing professional figures capable of
operating at the interface of different knowledge domains.
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