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Temporary Clusters and Knowledge Creation: The Case of Tourism@

Bénédicte Aldebert (), Rani Dang () and Christian Longhi
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Bénédicte Aldebert: GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

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Abstract: With respect to the knowledge-based-view and management science, innovations contribute to a company's competitiveness. And for successful innovation process, companies need to share, create and combine their internal knowledge as well as managing their external relationships and opportunities. Consequently, it is widely accepted that clusters - systemic and local configurations - by supporting horizontal and vertical knowledge exchange could be a fundamental mean for innovation. However, the prolific literature on clusters analyse them only as durable and permanent entities. Yet, interestingly, some forms of temporary organizations as trade fairs, conventions and other professional gatherings, are similar to permanent clusters, but in a temporary, repeated and intensified form. Maskell, Bathelt and Malmberg (2004) even call them “temporary cluster” using the concept to define a short-lived hotspot of intense knowledge exchange, network building and idea generation. It gathers heterogeneous participants in the same spot enabling them to bring together their specific knowledge through intensive interactions. Nevertheless, to date, we observed that the literature focusing on temporary clusters is limited. Notwithstanding, it requires growing attention for management science. In fact, the literature existing on temporary clusters, had asserted that these transient events are important for companies to access markets and knowledge pools in different part of the world. Therefore we consider temporary clusters as a significant vector for the building of trans-local business relations in common situations of incomplete knowledge and uncertainty. Besides, temporary clusters help developing global knowledge pipelines to benefit from outside knowledge.In this context, the paper will analyze a specific empirical case of temporary organization related to the tourism industry. Two arguments support this choice. On the one hand, as stated by Maskell et al. (2005), ‘identifying, selecting, approaching and interacting with new partners is a tricky and costly process' and, we think, even more in the tourism industry. Indeed, the tourism industry is structured by dispersed activities in nature, time and space that need to be combined and assembled dynamically. On the other hand, the tourism industry has been one of the most innovative activities related to the development of ICT, almost 50% of the innovations in the e-commerce activity come from e-tourism or m-tourism. Therefore, the analysis of a temporary cluster dedicated to this ‘dispersed' activity is particularly relevant.The paper will thus focus on such an event called Tourism@. This major event gathers the main actors of e-tourism and is dedicated to the usages of ICT in the tourism industry. It appears as a unique international trade fair in Europe dedicated to start up innovative companies, high tech SMEs, academic research, as well as large multinationals. Tourism@' specificity lies in the fact that each year, since 2001, the event includes the organization of a competition rewarding projects for their creativity and commitment in developing and implementing either new technologies or new uses for the tourism industry. The projects involved in this competition (175 since 2001) will be the basic elements of the temporal database we have build, in which the nature of the projects is extensively described (nature of the firm, of the technology, of the team, capabilities implemented, level of innovation...). In order to analyze the evolution of innovative activities in e-tourism, the initial step will be to characterize the projects through three main features: the market they address, nature of the technology and their innovative intensity. The study reveals that, each year, a main technology or a main innovation in terms of uses emerges showing some kind of self organization. Then, two points of the case study will be examined: first, the evolution of the dominant technology over time, and secondly, the diffusion of the emerging technology. Therefrom, the empirical study will aim at analyzing if temporary proximity allows the different actors from tourism industry to set up or mobilize knowledge and social links without requiring durable co-location. Furthermore, it will aim at identifying if, in a dynamic context of annual event, the repeated face to face temporary relations can result in trust and durable cooperation between different organizations. It might be expected that Tourism@ trade fair, in the role of a temporary cluster, enables to develop or implement innovative solutions, supports technology transfers and backs the creation of new markets as well as the fostering of horizontal and vertical relations between stakeholders.The paper is structured as follows. First section will investigate the theory field of temporary clusters and question in what extent a temporary cluster can be considered as a specific temporary organization regarding the interactions it support that lead to knowledge creation. Section two will present the Tourism@ case study; the methodology used and will develop the statistical analysis of the database. Lastly, the third section will be dedicated to the discussion of temporary clusters as a specific form of inter-firm organization that allows intensive exchange of knowledge.

Keywords: Knowledge creation; Temporary cluster; Tourism; Technological innovation; Création de connaissances; Clusters; Tourisme; Innovation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008-07-10
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Published in 24th EGOS Colloquium, 10-12 July 2008, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Jul 2008, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Netherlands. pp.Track 48, 2008

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