Location, Control and Innovation in Knowledge-Intensive Industries
Posted: 15 Aug 2008
Date Written: September 2008
The rising share of intangibles in economies worldwide highlights the crucial role of knowledge-intensive and creative industries in current and future wealth generation. The recognition of this trend has led to intense competition in these industries. At the micro-level, firms from both advanced and emerging economies are globally dispersing their value chains to control costs and leverage capabilities. The geography of innovation is the outcome of a dynamic process whereby firms from emerging economies strive to catch-up with advanced economy competitors, creating strong pressures for continued innovation. However, two distinct strategies can be discerned with regard to the control of the value chain. A vertical integration strategy emphasizes taking advantage of ‘linkage economies’ whereby controlling multiple value chain activities enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of each one of them. In contrast, a specialization strategy focuses on identifying and controlling the creative heart of the value chain, while outsourcing all other activities. The global mobile handset industry is used as the template to illustrate the theory.
Keywords: innovation, value chains, intangibles, vertical integration, specialization, knowledge-intensive industries
JEL Classification: F23, O33, O32, F02
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