Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Peter Maskell

Peter Maskell

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)

Anders Malmberg

Uppsala University

Date Written: 1999


Unites the role that knowledge-creation plays in firm competitiveness with the importance of localized capabilities. The authors begin with the thesis that firms increasingly compete on innovation and generation of entrepreneurial rents than on cost-reduction. Essential to the ability to innovate are skills in knowledge-creation and dissemination within a firm. The path-dependent nature of knowledge creation, that is, the fact that earlier obtained knowledge influences current knowledge-creation, is explored as is the role of the entrepreneur is converting unused or unusable knowledge into a usable form. Noting that tacit knowledge, defined as knowledge that has not been put into a transmissible, symbolic form, suffers from imperfect markets and obstacles to trade, the authors contend that embedded tacit knowledge will serve as the innovative firm's competitive edge. One important facilitator of knowledge-creation is a region's institutional endowment, or the transmission in time of an accumulated stock of knowledge. Firms in industries particularly favored by a region's institutional endowment will find competitive advantages by locating there; this in turn will prompt agglomerations of related firms. However, the authors note that empirical data on this point is in conflict and call for further research. Imitation of localized capabilities is problematic due to asset mass efficiencies, time compression diseconomies, and the inter-connectedness of regional asset stocks. The ability of regions to transmit localized capabilities over time and impede their transmission over space sustains continuous regional competitiveness. Finally the cause of regional decline is considered. Asset erosion, and particularly, obsolescence, when combined with reluctance to adapt to new technologies or market lead to regional lock-in. This demonstrates that "unlearning" plays a key role in facilitating knowledge-creation and preserving firm and regional competitiveness. (CAR)

Keywords: Knowledge base, Regional resources, Innovation process, Tacit knowledge, Sustainable development, Spatial analysis, Agglomeration economies, Resource acquisition, Knowledge production, Market competition, Localization, Organizational learning, Competitive advantages, Regional economies, Learning networks, Interfirm alliances

Suggested Citation

Maskell, Peter and Malmberg, Anders, Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness (1999). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1506360

Peter Maskell (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) ( email )

Howitzvej 60, 6
Danish research Unit for Industrial Dynamics (DRUID)
DK-2000 Frederiksberg
+45 3815 2881 (Phone)
+45 3929 2226 (Fax)

Anders Malmberg

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20

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