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Chapter 16: The Complex Interaction between Global Production Networks, Digital Information Systems and International Knowledge Transfers
16 The complex interaction between global production networks, digital information systems and international knowledge transfers Jarle Hildrum, Dieter Ernst and Jan Fagerberg 1. INTRODUCTION Innovation has traditionally been a complex undertaking, typically involving multiple actors at different organizational levels who combine diverse resources and ideas through repeated cycles of trial and failure (Van de Ven et al., 1999). This complexity has increased in recent decades as the knowledge necessary for innovation has become more geographically dispersed, and as the modes of interaction between innovators have become more variegated (see Consoli and Patrucco, Chapter 8 in this volume). For instance, in a recent report, the Economist Intelligence Unit (2007) observe a fast growing tendency among large firms to adopt global innovation network models in which R&D is being conducted in multiple globally dispersed sites. In this context, digital information systems (DIS) – meaning electronic systems that integrate software and hardware to enable remote collaborative work (Chandler and Cortada, 2000) – have been attributed a crucial role. Recent generations of DIS are said to be important because they improve people’s capacity to collaboratively create, integrate and transfer advanced knowledge across large distances (Foray and Steinmueller, 2003; Ernst, 2003; Foray, 2004; Ernst, 2005c; Gupta et al., 2009). Focusing on these issues, some authors hold that the interplay between local interactive learning and digitally facilitated knowledge sharing is becoming critical for competitive performance in many industries (Bathelt et al., 2004, Bathelt, 2005; Asheim and Gertler, 2005). For instance, according to Coenen et al. (2004), regions...
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