Chapter 10: The spatial dimension of inter-firm learning: case study and conceptualization
10. The spatial dimension of inter-ﬁrm learning: case study and conceptualization Roel Rutten and Frans Boekema The aim of this chapter is to contribute to the conceptualizing of the relationship between space and learning. There is room for further theoretical work on this matter as many empirical studies, thus far, have yielded mixed results (for example, Oerlemans et al., 2000 and Smith et al., 2002). The approach followed here is an explorative one, which means that empirical material will be presented ﬁrst. A theoretical discussion of the empirical results follows in the second part of this chapter. However, the starting point is not completely blank from a theoretical perspective. This chapter follows a knowledge-based perspective (for example, Boekema et al., 2000). Consensus seems to have emerged in the literature that we are now in the knowledge-based economy where knowledge is the most strategic resource and learning the most important process (Morgan, 1997). The question, then, is how the relation between space and learning (or knowledge) can be conceptualized from a knowledge-based perspective. In order to do so, it is necessary to discuss knowledge and learning ﬁrst. The knowledge-based approach argues that companies create knowledge in order to innovate, that is, to develop new products, services, working practices, and so on. For that purpose, they combine different kinds of knowledge, such as technological knowledge, managerial knowledge, knowledge of markets, which materializes in new products, services, and so on. This is a Schumpeterian view, where innovation should be seen as the...
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