Edited by Philip Cooke and Andrea Piccaluga
6. Knowledge life cycles inside local economic systems* Lucio Poma and Silvia Sacchetti 1. PRODUCTION SYSTEMS AND KNOWLEDGE Within production systems, knowledge is important for a number of reasons: it confers value to products, it generates innovative dynamics, it simulates technological development, it creates competitive advantages, it favours the creation of relations amongst economic actors, and attracts activities. As a consequence, nowadays knowledge can be seen as one of the most signiﬁcant elements for the competitiveness of advanced economies and, in particular, of local production systems. We keep our focus on those aspects of the relationship between knowledge and the economy that are related to production. We approach a particularly vast concept, which can refer to the knowledge incorporated inside technologies, human capital, ﬁrms, networks of ﬁrms, or within linkages amongst ﬁrms and other actors on the territory. Knowledge can be the outcome of past experiences, the fruit of intuition and research, the result of the imitation of secrets of production. Knowledge can be contextual, or the tacit capacity which derives from specialization and successful experiences. In parallel, knowledge is subject to diffusion: amongst individuals, organizations, within a locality or between different territorial systems. When talking about knowledge in production, the core dimension is the relationship between tacit knowledge, which involves human resources on the one hand, and the knowledge codiﬁed inside production machineries and technical manuals on the other. If in Smith’s (1776 ) analysis the main focus is on manufacture, for which human skills and the...
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