Creating and sustaining competitiveness: local knowledge and economic geography
Allplaces are not alike,and these differences are mostpronounced beneath the surface, in the things that cannot be seen by the tourist or casual observer. Just as customs vary and reflect local cultures, so too do firms and institutions in particular places engage in long-standing patterns and behaviours that reflect local culture. This chapter addresses the interplay between the knowledge that firms control and the knowledge that is ‘in the air’ and spills over to be shared by other, even all, firms in any particular place (Marshall 1909). Places – localities and regions – are better off when they promote shared or public knowledge from which many firms can benefit. Indeed, such knowledge forms the basis of successful high-tech regions. To create sufficient knowledge that it forms a basis for local competitiveness is difficult, and to sustain it is even more difficult as competitor regions continue to emerge.