Radical innovation is under-researched in the geography of innovation. In this paper, the focus is on understanding how radical innovations occur in Marshallian industrial districts (MIDs), a phenomenon mostly overlooked. Using an exploratory and in-depth longitudinal case study methodology in two European MIDs, this paper analyzes radical innovation in MIDs and finds that the introduction of technology-distant knowledge and new firms from different (to the focal) industries are both necessary mechanisms, but not sufficient. Access to leading incumbents’ networks, based on social norms, becomes a crucial social factor necessary for radical innovation to occur in MIDs.
Hervás-Oliver J.-L., Albors-Garrigos J., Estelles-Miguel S. & Boronat-Moll C. (2018) Radical innovation in Marshallian industrial districts. Regional Studies, 52(10), 1388-1397.
Full Professor of Innovation Studies
Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain
The interview transcript
Hi, welcome to coffee break with researchers, today I am at the Regional Innovation Policies Conference in Florence and I’m having a coffee break with Jose Luis Hervás- Olivier, he’s full Professor of innovation studies at the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain.
Hello Jose Luis, thank you for accepting this invitation to my coffee break how are you doing?
Hello, it’s my pleasure, I’m enjoying the conference and really happy to be here with you with a coffee break.
I would like to talk with you about the paper you wrote, in which you analyzed how radical innovations occur. Could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Yes, the paper is about analyzing the factors or the conditions that make possible the occurrence of radical innovation in Marshallian industrial districts.
And since this is the key concept could you please define what Marshallian industrial districts are?
Absolutely, we work with geographic concentration of companies that are named clusters, when we talk about a Marshallian industrial district, we go a little bit beyond the concept of cluster, beyond the idea or the concept of geographic concentration of companies, by Marshallian industrial districts we refer to a socio-economic phenomena, which means that these companies interact in making it working, based on social ties and based on trust.
Thank you for that, I see that another important notions of your paper are technological distant knowledge and technological gatekeepers. Could you please provide me with a definition of both?
Yes, these concepts are really really key in this study.
First of all, we have a technological gatekeepers, which are those living incumbents that really orchestrate and organize innovation in these local networks that we find in Marshallian industrial districts, these companies are really advanced companies that are the ones trying to access to that technology distant knowledge, technology distant knowledge is knowledge that is not available in the local Marshallian district, usually this knowledge comes from completely different geographic spaces and different industries and these technological gatekeepers or little incumbents are the ones that can connect the cluster with that particular knowledge.
And based on these notions, which ones would you say are the main findings of your paper?
The main findings of this paper is to understand that Marschallian industrial districts may generate radical innovation when two factors really can occur and they occur at the same time, first we need the entrance of technology distant knowledge, knowledge that is not related to that particular Marshallian industrial district, knowledge that usually comes from difference industries, and at the same time, we need to activate those technology gate keepers that can really take the knowledge, translate it and diffuse to be used for the local networks. When you have these two factors concurrent at the same time Marshallian industrial districts can in fact and generate radical innovation.
That’s very important to know, and which was your main motivation in writing this paper? why was so important to you to research that?
Okay the motivation was a little bit emotional because this industrial district is in my region, is very close to where I live and where I work so it’s part of my socioeconomic, let’s say landscape and because I did my PhD almost 20 years ago particularly in this Marshallian industrial districts, so I am quite connected to that people into that particular geographic concentration.
Thank you for sharing that and based on these findings that you explained before, which ones would you say are the main policy implications of your research?
That’s very interesting, the policy implications that we got from these findings were the policy makers have to try to make the the cluster open, they need to really introduce policymaking tools for trying to support openness of companies and companies searching that knowledge that is not locally available, and at the same time policy makers should provide incentives to activate that these technological gatekeepers, these local living incumbents access to that knowledge and recombine it in a way that can be used in local Marshallian industrial districts.
Those are really nice findings, thank you for clarifying them and those were my questions, thank you very much for having this nice chat with me and I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you next time.
Thank you so much my pleasure, I hope to see you next time.
Thank you for watching, if you’re interested in more details about this academic publication, find here the link below, thank you see you next time bye.Tags: ceramic tile industry, industrial districts, inkjet, networks, radical innovation