Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation
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Handbook on the Geographies of Innovation

Edited by Richard Shearmu, Christophe Carrincazeaux and David Doloreux

The geography of innovation is changing. First, it is increasingly understood that innovative firms and organizations exhibit a wide variety of strategies, each being differently attuned to diverse geographic contexts. Second, and concomitantly, the idea that cities, clusters and physical proximity are essential for innovation is evolving under the weight of new theorizing and empirical evidence. In this Handbook we gather 28 chapters by scholars with widely differing views on what constitutes the geography of innovation. The aim of the Handbook is to break with the many ideas and concepts that emerged during the course of the 1980s and 1990s, and to fully take into account the new reality of the internet, mobile communication technologies, personal mobility and globalization. This does not entail the rejection of well-established and supported ideas, but instead allows for a series of new ideas and authors to enter the arena and provoke debate.
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Chapter 14: Beyond networks in clusters

Franz Huber and Rune Dahl Fitjar


The chapter reflects on the limitations of the discourse on networks in innovative clusters in light of the author’s own empirical findings and associated research. The conceptual part of the chapter stresses the importance of distinguishing between personal and formal networks, and between stages of network mechanisms. It also stresses the need for conceptual sensitivity towards individualized networks that may go beyond coherent communities. The authors reflect on weaknesses in previous research, and then elaborate on reasons why networks in clusters can be limited due to lack of perceived need or lack of opportunity to benefit from local networks. Subsequently, they show that spatial proximity tends to be important for the formation of networks, while it tends to be less important for actual knowledge exchanges. In fact, within the context of Norway, the authors illustrate that it is international networks that are related to innovativeness. Finally, they clarify the role of various types of proximities for innovation by finding empirical evidence for the so-called Goldilocks principle: a medium level of proximity delivers the best innovative returns to collaboration, while collaboration with partners that are either too close or too far may not be beneficial for innovation.

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