Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

May 15, 2015

# 15.16 Networking, context and firm-level innovation: Cooperation through the regional filter in Norway

Rune Dahl Fitjar and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

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The paper assesses the role for innovation of one aspect which has been generally overlooked by evolutionary economic geography: context. It analyses how context shapes the impact of collaboration on firm-level innovation for 1604 firms located in the five largest city regions of Norway. Specifically, the analysis shows how the benefits to firms of collaborating within regional, national, and international innovation networks are affected by the knowledge endowments of the region within which the firm is located. Using a logit regression analysis, we find, first, that only national and international networking have a significant positive impact on the likelihood of innovation (the former only for process innovation), whereas the regional knowledge endowments have no direct effect. Second, regional cooperation is particularly effective in regions with high investments in R&D, whereas international cooperation is important in regions with an educated workforce – and regional and national collaboration may be ineffective in such cases. We conclude that, in the case of Norway, context is essential in determining the capacity of firms to set up networks and innovate. Regions with an educated workforce can use the resulting absorptive capacity to successfully assimilate knowledge being diffused through global pipelines from faraway places. However, this absorptive capacity is likely to be heavily filtered if regional firms mainly rely on internal connections within Norway.

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