Bjørn T. Asheim and Arne Isaksen
Heidi Wiig Aslesen and Arne Isaksen
The chapter studies the relationship between companies’ knowledge bases and their sources, channels and geography of innovation-relevant knowledge. It questions whether some types of cluster initiative are too oriented towards establishing regional cooperation. Indeed, regional clusters and innovation systems assume that geographical agglomerations and regional cooperation stimulate firms’ innovation activity and value creation. However, companies are becoming increasingly integrated into global value chains and knowledge networks, suggesting that extra-regional resources are also important for innovation. Further, the geography of knowledge sources also varies between the types of knowledge that are central to firms’ innovation activity. The analysis shows that firms have innovation collaboration with many different types of partners, and that firms with different knowledge bases use partners differently. Analytical knowledge firms have more cooperation with universities, technology centres and suppliers than firms with a symbolic knowledge base. The geography of knowledge sources also varies as firms with an analytical knowledge base collaborate internationally, while companies in symbolic industries collaborate more with proximate actors. Informal channels for obtaining innovation-relevant knowledge are frequently used by firms, and the source of informal knowledge also varies between firms with different knowledge bases. Based on this, cluster initiatives should have a national and international perspective, and the design of cluster policy should enter a new ‘radical phase’ that takes more into account the geography of innovation sources and types of innovation channels of relevance to different cluster types.
Arne Isaksen and James Karlsen
The chapter discusses typical features of innovation activity in peripheral regions; regions located outside daily commuting distance from large cities. Such regions exhibit different place-specific conditions to those found in dynamic core regions, which cause peripherally located firms to innovate in certain ways. Many peripheral regions are characterized by organizationally thin regional innovation systems and bonding social capital. These are features that stimulate incremental innovations based on experience-based knowledge, which is typical of the Doing-Using-Interacting (DUI) innovation mode. Characteristics such as many DUI innovations, little local knowledge flow, low related variety of knowledge and technology and high levels of bonding social capital may result in peripheral regions becoming trapped in path extension: firms and industries strengthen their existing activity through incremental innovation, while the development of new activities through radical innovations is difficult to achieve. Firms in peripheral regions, in particular, need to source extra-regional knowledge in order to achieve more radical innovation activity. Reliance on extra-regional knowledge sources also points to the fact that external investments and policy initiatives are especially important for industrial development in peripheral regions. Firms in peripheral regions, however, need to develop organizational learning strategies in order to be able to exploit external knowledge from distant sources in their internal innovation processes.