Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship in Low-Tech Industries

Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship in Low-Tech Industries

Edited by Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen and Isabel Schwinge

This book contributes to the discussion about the relevance of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship for industrial innovation in the context of traditional low-technology industries.

Chapter 3: Patterns of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship in low-tech industries

Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of entrepreneurship, economics of innovation, industrial economics, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


The starting point of this chapter is the recent discussion of 'knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship' (KIE) in innovation research (see the introductory chapter in this volume). The term 'knowledge intensive' points to the fact that entrepreneurial activity focuses not only on the use of existing knowledge, experience and skills, but also to a significant extent on the integration and coordination of different knowledge assets and the creation of new knowledge. Thus, the dimension of knowledge is primarily related to scientific, engineering and design knowledge, respective to systematic, problem-solving knowledge. In general, the term KIE is closely linked to the discourse on the growing significance of knowledge for societal development, i.e. the emerging 'knowledge economy' (Foray, 2002). The debate on KIE has thus far mainly focused on firms or start-ups in new technology-based, high-tech industries (Cohendet and Llerena, 2010; Malerba, 2010; Malerba and McKelvey, 2010; Audretsch et al., 2011). Unsurprisingly, in this discourse no attention has been paid to firms in the so-called low-technology industries. This chapter, by contrast, examines KIE in low-and medium-low-technology (LMT) sectors and analyses the determining factors, mechanisms and paths associated with KIE in LMT sectors. Furthermore, it asks what theoretical and policy-oriented conclusions can be drawn from the empirical findings. Case studies of 27 industrial LMT companies revealed the four different patterns of KIE in LMT industries to be outlined here.

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