Edited by Ron Boschma and Ron Martin
Chapter 13: Reputation, Trust and Relational Centrality in Local Networks: An Evolutionary Geography Perspective
* Stefano Denicolai, Antonella Zucchella and Gabriele Cioccarelli 1. Introduction: social variety in an evolutionary economic geography The literature about clusters and districts highlights that geographical proximity facilitates knowledge sharing and, therefore, innovation processes (Breschi and Lissoni, 2001; Cooke, 1998). According to a more or less tacit assumption in this stream, local knowledge is somewhat ‘in the air’: all district firms apparently have equal access to this important asset. This perspective tends to underestimate the relevance and the evolutionary path of knowledge creation inside the firm, which generates a variety of routines: each organization is approached by researchers as a sort of ‘black box’, while the focus goes on the relationships among local agents (Boschma and Kloosterman, 2005). Moreover, economic geography pays attention to whether generic locations or local networks are relevant for the development and sustainability of a competitive advantage (Boschma, 2004; Castells, 1996). This leads to the assumption – according to the traditional stream – that, in a particular cluster, local firms share similar levels of absorptive capacity. This circumstance provides a unique and inimitable location-bounded completive advantage for any firm located in a given place. Evolutionary economic geography adds a complementary view to these assumptions. It highlights that, also within the same district, firms could be very heterogeneous in their knowledge and competence bases (Boschma and Ter Wal, 2007; Nelson and Winter, 1982). The variety of firms and their evolution over time are important dimensions of analysis. Organizations involved in local networks aren’t ‘black boxes’: they differently absorb, explore and...
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