Cases and Policies
Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 6: Inter-Firm Networks in High-Tech Clusters
6 Inter-ﬁrm networks in high-tech clusters Helen Lawton Smith 1 Introduction The nature, frequency and outcomes of inter-ﬁrm networks in high-tech clusters form a key element in the debate about the link between innovation, ﬁrm competitiveness and regional development. ‘High-tech’ is synonymous with high levels of industrial innovation. The term refers to ‘ﬁrms and industries whose products and services embody new and innovative, advanced technologies by the application of scientiﬁc and technological expertise’ (Keeble and Wilkinson, 2000, 3). Such ﬁrms are often to be found concentrated or clustered in ‘new industrial spaces’ (Scott, 1988) such as Silicon Valley in the US (Saxenian, 1994), Cambridge and Oxford in the UK (Keeble and Wilkinson, 1999), with their growth driving the economies in those regions. The argument that clustering or geographical proximity is associated with rapid innovation-led economic development is based on the presumed eﬃciency gains from localized upstream and downstream links to other ﬁrms and organizations for both production (Porter, 1990, 1998a, 1998b, 2000) and innovation (Rutten and Boekema 2004; Weterings, 2005). For innovation, the proposition is both that interorganizational collaboration is an aspect of the collaborative nature of knowledge production (Fleming and Frenken, 2006) and that proximity increases information ﬂow and the rate at which innovations diﬀuse through interactive learning, creating technological spillovers (see Camagni, 1991; Boschma, 2005; Giuliani, 2005; Keeble et al., 1998; Breschi and Malerba, 2005). The innovative ﬁrm thus creates and uses formal (between ﬁrms) and informal (between individuals) networks which allow companies...
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