New Horizons in International Business series
Edited by Martin Heidenreich
Chapter 11: The Pôles de Compétitivité: Regional Innovation Clusters with a French Touch
Christoph Barmeyer and Katharina Krüth 11.1 INTRODUCTION In the context of increasing global competition and rapidly developing information and communication technologies, knowledge is considered to be a key economic resource for gaining and maintaining competitive advantages (Rammert, 2004). Accordingly, the dynamics of R&D activities have been identified as a crucial factor for global industrial competitiveness. Strategies of firms are increasingly oriented towards the creation and diffusion of new or newly combined knowledge and thus the development of innovations. Innovations can be defined as the successful transfer of knowledge into marketable products, processes or services (Edquist, 1997). Furthermore, innovation can be understood as an interactive learning process that takes place in social networks due to the circulation and transfer of knowledge and the combination and implementation of new competences (Fagerberg, 2004; Lundvall, 1992, 1999). According to Fagerberg (2004: 3), ‘innovation is by its very nature a systemic phenomenon, since it results from continuing interaction between different actors and organizations’. Social interaction and the combination of heterogeneous competences are thus considered to be substantial factors for generating innovations. In this context multinational companies (MNCs) are crucial actors due to their high investments in R&D (European Commission, 2007), their ability to disperse R&D activities internationally and to use transnational and thus heterogeneous competences (Narula and Zanfei, 2004; Dunning, 2000; Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1998). Nevertheless, the competitiveness of MNCs not only depends on the use of cross-border capabilities and the internationalization of R&D activities. MNCs also need to rely...
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