Title: Clusters, innovation and the local learning paradox

Authors: Arne Isaksen

Addresses: Agder University College, Groosevn 36, Grimstad 4876, Norway NIFU STEP, Centre of Innovation, Hammersborg tog 3, Oslo 0179, Norway

Abstract: The local learning paradox is about the continued importance of regional resources for innovation processes in the more globalised economy. This paper conducts detailed investigations of learning and innovation processes in the cluster of electronics firms in the small town of Horten, Norway and it discusses how knowledge from this case may inform our theoretical understanding of innovation and learning in clusters. This paper demonstrates that history and context matter; local learning becomes no paradox when unravelling how this specific cluster developed. The core competence of the firms originated from national R&D-institutes when the pioneer firms and main spin-offs were established during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Regional resources have become much more important for innovation processes the last 20 years through the creation of a specialised labour marked, dedicated local suppliers and local cluster organisations. This study demonstrates that categorical statements about decreasing importance of the regional level in learning and innovation processes at least need to be specified, that is, limited to particular types of clusters and contexts.

Keywords: clusters; innovation management; knowledge flows; local learning; global pipelines; electronics industry; Norway.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEIM.2007.012889

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 2007 Vol.7 No.2/3/4/5, pp.366 - 384

Published online: 21 Mar 2007 *

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