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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 49, Issue 6, pp 706–728 | Cite as

Global connectedness and local innovation in industrial clusters

  • Ekaterina Turkina
  • Ari Van Assche
Article

Abstract

In today’s knowledge economy, clusters are a key driver of a country’s competitiveness. Yet a cluster’s technological base is now more than ever influenced by constituent firms’ actions to tap into distant knowledge sources. Drawing on a social network perspective, and distinguishing between horizontal versus vertical organization-based linkages, we explore the effects of a cluster’s connectedness to foreign locations on its innovation performance. We show that improvements in horizontal and vertical connectedness both stimulate a cluster’s innovation performance, but that their relative effects vary across cluster types. Innovation in knowledge-intensive clusters disproportionately benefits from enhancements in their constituent firms’ horizontal connectedness to foreign knowledge hotspots. Innovation in labor-intensive clusters mostly gains from stronger vertical connections by their firms to central value chain players abroad. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on global knowledge sourcing and cluster upgrading.

Keywords

cluster knowledge sourcing connectedness network analysis patent 

Résumé

Dans l'économie contemporaine fondée sur la connaissance, les grappes industrielles constituent un facteur clé de la compétitivité d'un pays. Pourtant, la base technologique d'une grappe est plus que jamais influencée par les actions de ses firmes pour accéder à des connaissances à l’étranger. En nous appuyant sur la perspective du réseau social, et en distinguant les liens horizontaux et verticaux entre les firmes, nous explorons de quelle façon la performance d'une grappe en terme d’innovation est affectée par sa connectivité aux autres grappes étrangères. Nous montrons que les améliorations dans la connectivité horizontale et verticale d’une grappe industrielle stimulent l'innovation locale, mais que leurs effets relatifs varient selon les types de grappes. L'innovation dans les grappes à forte intensité de connaissances bénéficie de manière disproportionnée des améliorations dans la connectivité horizontale de leurs firmes à des zones étrangères actives en termes de connaissances. L'innovation dans les grappes à forte intensité de travail bénéficie surtout de plus fortes connexions verticales de leurs firmes aux acteurs centraux dans les chaînes de valeur mondiales. Nous discutons les implications de nos résultats pour la recherche sur l’acquisition des connaissances mondiales et la valorisation des grappes industrielles.

Resumen

En la economía de conocimiento actual, los clústeres son un propulsor clave en la competitividad de un país. Sin embargo, la base tecnológica de un clúster está ahora más que nunca influenciada por las acciones de las empresas que lo constituyen para acceder a fuentes de conocimiento distantes. Basándonos en la perspectiva de una red social, y distinguiendo entre vínculos horizontales versus verticales de la organización, exploramos los efectos de la conectividad de un clúster con ubicaciones en extranjero en su desempeño de innovación. Mostramos que las mejorías en la conectividad tanto horizontal como vertical estimulan el desempeño de la innovación del clúster, pero que sus efectos relativos varían según los tipos de clúster. La innovación en clústeres intensivos en conocimiento se beneficia desproporcionadamente de las mejoras en la conexión horizontal de las firmas que lo constituyen con los focos de conocimiento extranjeros. La innovación en clústeres que son intensivos en mano de obra se beneficia principalmente de las conexiones verticales más fuertes de sus empresas con los principales actores de la cadena de valor central en el extranjero. Discutimos las implicaciones de los hallazgos para la investigación sobre las fuentes globales de conocimiento y la actualización de clústeres.

Resumo

Na atual economia do conhecimento, os clusters são um dos principais impulsionadores da competitividade de um país. No entanto, a base tecnológica de um cluster está mais do que nunca influenciada pelas ações de suas empresas constituintes na exploração de distantes fontes de conhecimento. Com base em uma perspectiva de rede social e distinguindo entre vínculos baseados na organização horizontais e verticais, exploramos os efeitos da conexão de um cluster com locais estrangeiros no desempenho de inovação. Mostramos que melhorias nas conexões horizontais e verticais estimulam o desempenho de inovação de um cluster, mas que seus efeitos relativos variam entre diversos tipos de cluster. Inovação em clusters intensivos em conhecimento é desproporcionalmente beneficiada por melhorias na conexão horizontal de suas firmas constituintes a centros de conhecimento estrangeiro. Inovação em clusters intensivos em mão-de-obra é beneficiada principalmente por conexões verticais mais fortes de suas empresas com atores centrais da cadeia de valor no exterior. Discutimos as implicações de nossas descobertas para pesquisa sobre obtenção de conhecimento global e aprimoramento de clusters.

摘要

在当今知识经济时代, 产业集群已成为国家竞争力的关键驱动力, 而集群的科技基础也日渐受到其组成企 业嵌入远程知识源行动的影响。我们透过社会网络视角对组织间横向与纵向关联加以区分, 从而进一步探 索产业集群与他国区位的连通性对集群创新绩效的影响。我们的研究表明, 横向与纵向连通性的改善一方 面能同时促进产业集群创新绩效的提升, 另一方面对不同类型产业集群的相对影响又有所差异。在知识密 集型产业集群的创新活动中, 集群组成企业的与国外知识创新热点地区的横向连通性会带来不均等的收 益。而在劳动密集型产业集群的创新活动中, 集群组成企业则主要得益于其与在价值链中占据中心地位的 他国企业增强的纵向连通性。我们还将进一步探讨该成果对全球知识外包与产业集群升级相关研究的启 示。

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Both authors contributed equally to this study. We would like to thank Ram Mudambi (Editor), Alain Verbeke (Editor-in-chief), Harald Bathelt, John Cantwell, and four anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We acknowledge the financial support from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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© Academy of International Business 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International BusinessHEC MontréalMontrealCanada

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