Contested Concepts, Contested Experiences
Edited by Wilfred Dolfsma and Charlie Dannreuther
Chapter 5: Technical consultancies and regional competences
Clive Lawson INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is to describe the ways in which the activities of technical consultancies have influenced the particular structures of learning and innovation that exist in the Cambridge region. The strategy pursued is to highlight a number of commonly identified constraints on the learning and innovating competences of a region and then draw upon evidence from a recent study1 to show how the activities of these consultancies has alleviated all of these constraints to varying degrees. There are two different motivations for this project. The first is simply to formalize, or give substance to widely held beliefs about, the role that technical consultancies have played in the Cambridge region’s development. For some time, there has been a general acceptance among researchers and the local interested business community that the emergence of the technical consultancy sector has been crucial to the development of the region and explains many of the differences between Cambridge and other potentially similar regions. However, there has been no attempt to systematically assess the nature of this sector’s impact. Perhaps this is not surprising given how little has been written about technical consultancies in the academic literature more generally. Moreover, where consultancies have been discussed, this has been with reference simply to the workings of the service side of the firm itself. Whether the emphasis is upon the achievements of consultancies for other firms directly (for example, in terms of uncertainty reduction (Lundberg, 1997) or how consultancies come into being (Foley...
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