Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin
Chapter 8: The Relationship between Multinational Firms and Innovative Clusters
Simona Iammarino and Philip McCann 1. Introduction In the globalised economy, the geographical dispersion of economic and innovative activities is occurring on a massive scale. However, geographic dispersion does not lead to the wonderland of a ‘borderless world’, and the centripetal forces of geography are not rescinded by globalisation. The breathtaking speed of geographical dispersion has been accompanied by strong processes of spatial concentration, and much of the recent cross-border expansion of manufacturing and services production, as well as of innovative activities, has been concentrated in a handful of specialised industrial clusters and regional systems of innovation, in both advanced and emerging economies. Globalisation often occurs as an extension of national clusters across national borders. The first implication is that, while some stages of the value chain are internationally dispersed, others remain spatially concentrated. The second implication is that those internationally dispersed activities, and especially innovative activities, typically agglomerate in a limited number of overseas sub-national regions. This clearly indicates that agglomeration economies continue to matter. What needs to be better understood though, is how they are changing under the impact of globalisation or, in other words, what kind of challenges are posed by the new interaction of ‘global versus local’. One crucial aspect of such a relationship deserves particular attention: the creation and diffusion of innovation, which, more than other economic processes, show rather complex patterns of spatial distribution. Industrial clustering has been seen as a central component of the processes of regional innovation and growth. However, the observed...
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