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 24: The geography of innovation in multinational companies: internal distribution and external embeddedness

Jannika Mattes


This chapter is concerned with the way multinational companies (MNCs) organize the internal and external geographical setup of their innovation projects. The core thesis of this chapter is that innovation is socially embedded, which is why the activities involved cannot take place anywhere. An empirical example shows that neither internal nor external geographical constellations are stable and uniform within the whole MNC. Instead, by differentiating between projects and functional arenas, the selective and dynamic aspects of the geographical setup of corporate innovation are being displayed. Indeed, MNCs have to deal with an inherent spatial tension: on the one hand, they are active in multiple countries and consequently disperse their activities; on the other hand, the need to control and coordinate makes concentrated settings attractive. This refers particularly to strategically important and complex tasks such as innovation projects. At the same time, corporate innovation does not occur independently of the external environment. For this external embeddedness spatial characteristics again play an important role. It is therefore worthwhile to look at innovation projects of MNCs combining their internal and external dimensions.

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