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Title: Knowledge exchanges in innovation networks: evidences from an Italian aerospace cluster
Authors: Alberti, Fernando
Pizzurno, Emanuele
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Emerald group publishing limited
Bibliographic citation: Alberti Fernando, Pizzurno Emanuele (2015), Knowledge exchanges in innovation networks: evidences from an Italian aerospace cluster. In: Competitiveness review, v. 25, n. 3, p. 258-287. ISSN 1059-5422. EISSN 2051-3143. DOI 10.1108/CR-01-2015-0004.
Abstract: Purpose. This paper aims at investigating the multifaceted nature of innovation networks by focusing on two research questions: Do cluster actors exchange only one type of innovation-related knowledge? Do cluster actors play different roles in innovation-related knowledge exchange? Design/methodology/approach. This paper builds on data collected at the firm level in an Italian aerospace cluster, that is a technology-intensive industry where innovation is at the base of local competitiveness. A questionnaire was used to collect both attribute data and relational data concerning collaboration and the flows of knowledge in innovation networks. The authors distinguished among three types of knowledge (technological, managerial and market knowledge) and five types of brokerage roles (coordinator, gatekeeper, liaison, representative and consultant). Data analysis relied on social network analysis techniques and software. Findings. Concerning the first research question, the findings show that different types of knowledge flow in different ways in innovation networks. The different types of knowledge are unevenly exchanged. The exchange of technological knowledge is open to everyone in the cluster. The exchange of market and managerial knowledge is selective. Concerning the second research question, the authors suggest that different types of cluster actors (large firms, small and medium-sized enterprises, research centers and universities and institutions for collaboration) do play different roles in innovation networks, especially with reference to the three types of knowledge considered in this study. Research limitations/implications. The present paper has some limitations. First of all, the analysis focuses on just one cluster (one industry in one specific location), cross- and comparative analyses with other clusters may illuminate the findings better, eliminating industry and geographical biases. Second, the paper focuses only on innovation-related knowledge exchanges within the cluster and not across it. Practical implications. The results have practical implications both for policy makers and for managers. First, this research stresses how innovation often originates from a combination of different knowledge types acquired through the collaboration with heterogeneous cluster actors. Further, the analysis of brokerage roles in innovation-driven collaborations may help policy makers in designing programs for knowledge-transfer partnerships among the various actors of a cluster. Social implications. The paper suggests a clear need of developing professional figures capable of operating at the interface of different knowledge domains. Originality/value. The data illuminate several aspects of how innovation takes place in a cluster opening up intriguing aspects that have been overlooked by extant literature. The authors believe that this may trigger several lines of further research on the topic.
Journal/Book: Competitiveness review
ISSN: 1059-5422
Appears in Collections:Contributo in rivista

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