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Cluster absorptive capacity: Two types of intermediaries in technology upgrading of manufacturing clusters

Asbjørn Karlsen, Henrik Brynthe Lund and Markus Steen ()

PEGIS from Institute for Economic Geography and GIScience, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business

Abstract: Specialized clusters are based on common knowledge resources and other positive externalities, but it is unclear how such resources develop over time. A case in point is how extra-cluster knowledge linkages are integrated into intra-cluster linkages by firms or other actors and subsequently shared with other cluster actors. To advance the understanding of cluster dynamics and renewal through knowledge exchange, the authors develop a refined conceptualization of cluster absorptive capacity by addressing the role of agency. Intermediaries link clusters to external knowledge sources and contribute to dissemination of knowledge among cluster firms, and the authors find this perspective relevant because manufacturing firms are facing rapid changes in technology platforms, such as those associated with ‘Industry 4.0’. Additionally, the authors analyse processes of knowledge exchange and technology upgrading of two mature manufacturing clusters in Norway. The results show that the processes are supported by knowledge institutions and facilitated by cluster organizations in quite different ways. In the light of the theoretical discussions and findings from the two case studies, the authors propose a novel conceptual framework that combines two types of intermediaries and two types of absorptive capacities for investigating the role of non-firm actors in contrasting types of clusters.

Keywords: Cluster Dynamics; Absorptive Capacity; Extra-cluster Linkages; Intermediaries; Technology Upgrading; Industry 4.0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 28 pages
Date: 2019
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