Chapter 8: Networks and Heterogeneous Performance of Cluster Firms
8. Networks and heterogeneous performance of cluster ﬁrms Elisa Giuliani* 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter explores the relationship existing among the heterogeneous nature of ﬁrms in industrial clusters, their structural position in local networks and their performance. Following the rising interest for spatially agglomerated industrial ﬁrms (Piore and Sabel, 1984; Pyke et al., 1990; Porter, 1990; Krugman, 1991) and their learning and innovative potential (for example, Maskell, 2001a; Pinch et al., 2003), this chapter shows empirically that the performance of ﬁrms in clusters is related to ﬁrm-level knowledge endowments and their position in the knowledge network. A starting argument of this chapter is that of questioning the widely accepted view that knowledge is diﬀused in clusters in a rather pervasive and unstructured way, and that this is what aﬀects the enhanced performance of cluster ﬁrms as compared to isolated ones. Most economists and economic geographers share this view. On the one hand, in fact, economists stress the public nature of knowledge (Arrow, 1962) and argue that geography facilitates inter-ﬁrm learning and innovation because of localized knowledge spillovers (for example, Jaﬀe et al., 1993); on the other, recent work done by economic geographers argues that it is not geography per se that matters for innovation, but it is a common institutional endowment and ﬁrms’ relational proximity (later deﬁned), which facilitate the diﬀusion of knowledge and enhance collective learning in clusters (for example, Maskell and Malmberg, 1999; Capello and Faggian, 2005). A reason for this is the...
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