It is widely accepted that firms in peripheral regions benefit to a lesser extent from local knowledge spillovers than firms located in agglomerations or industrial clusters. This paper investigates the extent to which innovative firms in peripheral regions compensate for the lack of access to local knowledge spillovers by collaborating at other geographical scales. So far, the literature predominantly suggests that collaborations complement rather than compensate for local knowledge spillovers. Using data on the collaboration patterns of innovative firms in Sweden, this paper provides evidence that firms with low access to local knowledge spillovers tend to collaborate more. This effect, however, depends on firm size and in-house capabilities. Our findings suggest that firms with strong in-house capabilities do indeed compensate for a lack of local knowledge spillovers with collaborations while firms with weaker in-house capabilities depend more on the regional knowledge infrastructure.
Grillitsch M. & Nilsson M. (2015) Innovation in peripheral regions: Do collaborations compensate for a lack of local knowledge spillovers? The Annals of Regional Science 54(1), 299-321.
Senior Lecturer at Department of Human Geography and Deputy Director at CIRCLE
Lund University, Sweden
The interview transcript
Hi, welcome to Coffee Break with Researchers!
Today, I am having a coffee break with Markus Grillitsch.
He currently works at the Department of Human Geography at Lund University and he is an expert in Economic Geography, Regional Science and Innovation Studies.
Hello Markus, thank you for joining us today at our a coffee break.
How are you doing?
Hello Lorena, I am fine how are you?
I am having a Colombian black coffee, which coffee are you having?
I have a “Wiener Melange”.
Today I am reading one of your recent papers. The one about innovation in peripheral regions. Could you please tell me what the main idea of the paper was about?
Well, I grew up not in a big city. I grew up in a more rural area.
I worked a lot in more peripheral areas and it is important to have good jobs there. Otherwise people move to the cities and innovative firms provide interesting jobs. But then, if you talk about innovation it is all about cities and that firms in the periphery are not innovative.
I know innovative firms in the periphery and so I wanted to challenge this general belief.
That is very interesting.
So, how did you challenge that?
First we have to start with a general story and innovation is about knowledge and firms, they combine their own knowledge with knowledge they find outside of the firm.
In cities you have you a lot of knowledge. You have many organisations, you have firm, you have universities, you have research facilities, and they provide jobs for qualified people.
And then you also have the so-called local knowledge spillovers. Spillovers, what is that? Think about milk. If you boil it too long it will flow over and spread over the surface. The milk is knowledge. The pot is an organisation.
And the organisations that are close to the one that produces the knowledge will benefit first and then the knowledge spreads over time further away.
In cities you have main organisations and a lot of knowledge spillover.
In the peripheries you don’t.
That’s a great example but I still don’t have it clear what that means for firms in the periphery.
The good thing is that the firms can also acquire knowledge in other ways and one way is to collaborate with distant partners.
Now, in the literature we often assume that collaborations compliment local knowledge spillovers, meaning that if you are in a city you will also collaborate more.
In contrast, we investigate whether collaborations can compensate for a lack of local knowledge spillovers.
So whether firms that are in the periphery collaborate more.
If they do, they could potentially innovate as well as firms in cities do.
Is that your main findings or do you have any other important conclusions that you would like to highlight?
It’s also our finding. We have done an empirical study also. We have looked at more than 2.000 innovative firms in Sweden and we have found that the further away they are from the knowledge centres like Stockholm or Gothenburg, the higher is the likelihood that they collaborate. And this pattern holds in particular for those firms that have strong capabilities in-house.
These are important findings for academics but also for practitioners, right?
Do you have any relevant recommendations for policy-making?
Indeed, this gives some hope to the peripheries.
It means that innovation is possible in the peripheries and that firms to be innovative they do collaborate frequently with partners that are further away.
And policy-makers might reflect on how to support innovative firms in the periphery and in particular how to support them to connect to the knowledge sources they need to be innovative.
Thank you once again for your time.
It was really nice to have you here on a coffee break.
I wish you all the best for your future research and hope to see you next time.
Thank you Lorena and thank you for your interest.
See you next time.
Thank you for watching.
If you are interested in more details about his research, find here the link to the academic publication.
See you next time.
Bye, Bye.Tags: industrial clusters, Local knowledge, peripheral regions