Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters
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Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters

Cases and Policies

Edited by Charlie Karlsson

The role of innovations and clusters has increasingly dominated local and regional development policies in recent decades. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers important aspects of high-tech clusters, analyses insightful cluster case studies, and provides a number of recommendations for cluster policies.
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Chapter 6: Inter-Firm Networks in High-Tech Clusters

Helen Lawton Smith


6 Inter-firm networks in high-tech clusters Helen Lawton Smith 1 Introduction The nature, frequency and outcomes of inter-firm networks in high-tech clusters form a key element in the debate about the link between innovation, firm competitiveness and regional development. ‘High-tech’ is synonymous with high levels of industrial innovation. The term refers to ‘firms and industries whose products and services embody new and innovative, advanced technologies by the application of scientific and technological expertise’ (Keeble and Wilkinson, 2000, 3). Such firms are often to be found concentrated or clustered in ‘new industrial spaces’ (Scott, 1988) such as Silicon Valley in the US (Saxenian, 1994), Cambridge and Oxford in the UK (Keeble and Wilkinson, 1999), with their growth driving the economies in those regions. The argument that clustering or geographical proximity is associated with rapid innovation-led economic development is based on the presumed efficiency gains from localized upstream and downstream links to other firms and organizations for both production (Porter, 1990, 1998a, 1998b, 2000) and innovation (Rutten and Boekema 2004; Weterings, 2005). For innovation, the proposition is both that interorganizational collaboration is an aspect of the collaborative nature of knowledge production (Fleming and Frenken, 2006) and that proximity increases information flow and the rate at which innovations diffuse through interactive learning, creating technological spillovers (see Camagni, 1991; Boschma, 2005; Giuliani, 2005; Keeble et al., 1998; Breschi and Malerba, 2005). The innovative firm thus creates and uses formal (between firms) and informal (between individuals) networks which allow companies...

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