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Regional Economies as Knowledge Laboratories

Edited by Philip Cooke and Andrea Piccaluga

Today, the study of regions is central to academic analysis and policy deliberation on how to respond to the rise of the knowledge economy. Regional Economies as Knowledge Laboratories illustrates how newer types of regional analysis – utilising scientometrics, knowledge services measures and university networks, and concepts such as knowledge life cycles, experimental knowledge creation, and knowledge ethics – are leading to a perception that regional economies increasingly resemble knowledge laboratories.
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Chapter 5: The cluster as a nexus of knowledge creation

Mark Lorenzen and Peter Maskell


Mark Lorenzen and Peter Maskell 1. INTRODUCTION Current wisdom has it that many industrial clusters around the world mainly exist because they facilitate localized knowledge creation across incumbent firms. While frequently illustrated by case studies and other anecdotal documentation, most will probably agree that the jury is still sitting and that it will probably take a while before we have sufficiently solid empirical evidence to prove or discharge this widespread assertion. The main aim of the present chapter is to contribute to the refinement of a few selected conceptual categories deemed crucial for subsequent empirical testing of knowledge-based cluster hypotheses. We confine ourselves to situations where knowledge creation in a cluster is not university-driven but takes place in an interactive way across firms engaged in traditional manufacturing or service industries – in particular consumer goods and services – even if sometimes heavily supported by local research and educational institutions. The essence of such clusters is thus the localized knowledge creation processes taking place in inter-firm relations and transactions on local markets. A theoretical focus on the transaction costs of market relations (Coase, 1937; Dahlman, 1979; Storper, 1995) may help explain a general propensity for vertically disintegrated industries to cluster, but still leave us unable to understand if there are aspects of knowledge creation activities in market relations that are more sensitive to distance than other activities taking place on the market (such as, for example, outsourcing in order to take advantage of comparative advantages). In other words, before...

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