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Knowledge Networks and Innovative Performance in an Industrial District: The Case of a Footwear District in the South of Italy

Ron Boschma () and Anne L.J. Wal ()

Industry and Innovation, 2007, vol. 14, issue 2, 177-199

Abstract: The traditional district literature tends to assume that: (1) the competitiveness of firms depends on external sources of knowledge; (2) all firms in a district benefit from knowledge externalities; (3) relying on external knowledge relationships necessarily means these are confined to the district area. Our case study of the Barletta footwear district in the South of Italy suggests otherwise. Based on social network analysis, we demonstrate that the local knowledge network is quite weak and unevenly distributed among the local firms. A strong local network position of a firm tended to increase their innovative performance, and so did their connectivity to extra-local firms. So, it mattered being connected either locally or non-locally: being co-located was surely not enough. Having a high absorptive capacity seemed to raise only indirectly, through non-local relationships, the innovative performance of firms.

Keywords: Knowledge networks; industrial districts; innovative performance; absorptive capacity; footwear industry (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007
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