The Role of Entrepreneurship Theory and Methods, Practice and Policy
Edited by Sameeksha Desai, Peter Nijkamp and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 7: Innovation Clusters Linking Regions
Brigitte Preissl 7.1 INTRODUCTION The innovation cluster literature of the last few years has shown that innovating firms benefit from regional clustering (see, for example, OECD, 2001; Porter, 1990, 1998; Bergman et al., 2001; Keeble and Wilkinson, 2000; Cooke, 2001b). This chapter will present evidence for innovation activity in a cluster context that links regions by creating knowledge transfer chains. It is based on an analysis of the innovation cluster of the German automotive component sector. This cluster confirms the benefits of regional agglomeration, and it also shows the importance of privileged access to knowledge and expertise that transcends regions, but relies on typical cluster features. This perspective on clusters requires a clear distinction between innovation and production clusters. The essential ingredient for innovation is new knowledge; and to get it at the right time, in exactly the quality needed, is crucial for success. The transfer of knowledge benefits from relations based on trust and informal communication. Hence, access to resources essential for innovation is easier in a cluster than in market transactions. It will be argued that there are specific advantages for innovating firms to act in a cluster context, but not all of them are derived from agglomeration. Other features of cluster configurations that rely on previous interaction play a prominent part here. It is these latter features that provide the main rationale for an integration function of clusters across regions. In this approach, cluster membership is no longer defined by location in a specific region and a...
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