Techniques and Perspectives for Multi-Level Analysis
INTRODUCTION This chapter deals with the issue of assessing and evaluating R&D and innovation by adopting a broader unit of analysis, which moves from the single firm to systems of firms. The need to address the characteristics of the innovation process according to a perspective that goes beyond individual firms’ boundaries is supported by two distinct insights: on the one hand, a large body of empirical literature since 1990 has clearly highlighted how a number of systemic interactions taking place within both structured and informal networks of firms significantly affects the rates of production and diffusion of new knowledge; on the other hand, new paradigms of innovation management have emerged that explicitly stress the importance of different types of external sources of innovation in defining companies’ technological strategies. The fundamental results of the first stream of research are mainly represented by the new geography of innovation (Audretsch and Feldman, 2004). The specific features of innovative knowledge as an economic good imply that the system into which a company is embedded, also geographically defined and including institutions, is relevant to its ability to develop and introduce new technologies. Following Von Hippel (1994), it is possible to state that while information is codified and can be formalized, knowledge is tacit, embedded in human capital, difficult to codify and often only serendipitously recognized. Hence, co-localization is expected to mitigate the inherent uncertainty of innovative activity because proximity enhances the ability of firms to exchange ideas and be cognizant of important incipient knowledge...
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