Interaction and Innovation across Diff erent Sectors: Findings from Norwegian City-Regions
Cooperation and interaction have been at the heart of evolutionary economic geography (MACKINNON et al., 2009). Firms – which are the fundamental object of analysis of this strand of research – adjust and adapt to changing socioeconomic conditions. This can be achieved through two types of mechanisms: either by innovation through in-house research or, as suggested by ASHEIM and GERTLER (2005), as a result of ‘a dynamic interplay between, and transformation of, tacit and codiﬁed forms of knowledge as well as a strong interaction of people within organizations and between them’ (p. 294). The internal structure, conﬁguration, procedures and, more importantly for this article, the interaction between ﬁrms determine how individual ﬁrms evolve. Much of this interaction leading to the formation of partnerships and networks is a consequence of exchanges with sources external to the ﬁrm, such as customers, suppliers and competitors, on the one hand, and centres generating knowledge, such as universities, research centres and consultancies, on the other. The importance of internal versus external sources of innovation and the speciﬁc inﬂuence of diverse knowledge-generating partnerships have been the object of constant scrutiny, especially in determining
how innovation is achieved in manufacturing ﬁrms or in speciﬁc subsectors within manufacturing. These studies have tended to highlight different sectoral patterns in the importance of different sources of innovation, even within manufacturing industries (PAVITT, 1984). Recent research has also paid attention to services, in particular knowledge-intensive business services and other highly innovative subsectors (e.g. ASLESEN and ISAKSEN, 2007; DOLOREUX and SHEARMUR, 2012). Less attention has been paid to the analysis of how each of these sources affects innovation across a wide range of different sectors and whether the sources of innovation vary widely across industries (CASTELLACCI, 2008). Yet, as MALERBA (2005, p. 380) notes, ‘innovation greatly differs across sectors in terms of characteristics, sources, actors involved, the boundaries of the process, and the organization of innovative activities’. Innovation in ﬁrms or sectors with varying production and market conditions and skills structures demands different approaches and different types of knowledge inputs, being the consequence of different forms of interaction across diverse types of industries. If this hypothesis is correct, variation across sectors in terms of the use of different types of partners, as well as in how closely these different types of collaboration are associated with innovation outcomes, can be expected. Hence, the understanding of how
interaction affects ﬁrm adaptation and evolution remains somewhat limited.