Myths, Visions and Realities
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Marina van Geenhuizen and Peter Nijkamp
Chapter 16: Knowledge Spillovers through Informal Contacts in Urban Production Systems: The Case of ICT Firms in Campinas, Brazil
Renato Garcia and Veneziano Araujo INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is to examine local knowledge spillovers as a means of spreading information and sharing knowledge among clustering firms. In the literature, there is a growing debate on local knowledge spillovers, not only in terms of understanding them conceptually and theoretically, but also concerning empirical efforts to measure their effects in fostering innovation and improving the performance of firms in local production systems. Knowledge spillovers are among the main benefits of clustering firms. They are a very important way to disseminate information and share knowledge among firms. Knowledge spillovers may occur in several forms, one of which is through informal contacts among local agents, particularly among skilled workers, who exchange information and share knowledge within their social networks. The main effect of informal contacts among agents is fostering the circulation and diffusion of highly specialized knowledge, mainly about problem-solving. This chapter presents evidence that furthers the understanding of these processes. The methodology developed by Dahl and Pedersen (2004), in which engineers in the wireless communication cluster in the Aalborg region (Denmark) were interviewed, was applied to the information and communication technology (ICT) cluster in the region of the city of Campinas (Brazil). Several engineers and employees of software development firms in this cluster were interviewed, enabling us to understand the role of informal contacts in fostering knowledge spillovers. To develop the argument, a theoretical discussion of local knowledge spillovers and the role of informal contacts in new knowledge 413 VAN...
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