Title: Does geographical proximity enhance knowledge exchange? The case of the aerospace industrial cluster of Centre Italy

Authors: Lucio Biggiero, Alessia Sammarra

Addresses: Faculty of Economics, University of L'Aquila, Piazza del Santuario, 67090 – Roio Poggio, AQ, Italy. ' Faculty of Economics, University of L'Aquila, Piazza del Santuario, 67090 – Roio Poggio, AQ, Italy

Abstract: According to the dominant literature, spatial proximity matters for successful inter-firm collaboration for innovation and more generally for knowledge transfer. This assumption is based on the argument that the tacit character of complex knowledge makes repetitive face-to-face interactions and shared cognition necessary to capture new ideas and to exchange knowledge. In contrast with this assumption, another stream of literature supports the idea that innovating requires integrating |global best| scientific discoveries and knowledge, despite the geographical position of potential partners. Based on field research in the aerospace cluster of Rome, this study offers empirical evidence for the assumption that geographical proximity matters for inter-firm innovation-related knowledge exchange. Although external innovation collaborations are more diffused than local ones, we found that local relationships are more effective as knowledge vehicles, because more knowledge is exchanged through local relationships than through external ties. Moreover, it is showed that the propensity to transfer more knowledge with co-located partners is accentuated for the most critical type of knowledge. Finally, it is demonstrated that the propensity to access external knowledge is unevenly distributed among cluster firms.

Keywords: industrial clusters; innovation networks; inter-firm collaboration; knowledge transfer; knowledge exchange; Centre Italy; geographical location; spatial proximity; complex knowledge; face-to-face interactions; shared cognition; new ideas; global best; Rome; local relationships; knowledge vehicles; external knowledge; cluster firms; technology transfer; commercialisation; globalisation; aerospace industry.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTTC.2010.035397

International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, 2010 Vol.9 No.4, pp.283 - 305

Published online: 30 Sep 2010 *

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