Distant Neighbors: Collective Learning Beyond the Cluster

Alexander Sasha Cole

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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    Abstract

    The co-location of industry in agglomerations of similar and related firms is one of the salient features of the contemporary global economy. Over the last thirty years, a large body of theory and case-literature has addressed this phenomenon and sought to understand the advantages that accrue when industries are spatially clustered. Contemporary scholars in this tradition have focused on the advantages of face-toface interaction and the access to spatially sticky information in the form of buzz available to cluster agents. They have further suggested that the development of local conventions and a local idiom facilitate knowledge circulation and collaboration within clusters while perhaps frustrating access to outsiders. The resultant learning views of agglomeration have become dominant within the field of economic geography. In the past decade, however, this dominant view has been challenged by a counterview challenging the idea that physical proximity is neither necessary nor sufficient for economic learning. First, it has been noted that much of the learning that occurs in clusters may actually be organized through various forms temporary proximity. Secondly, it has been argued that knowledge circulates not by virtue of spatial proximity, but through participation in knowledge communities that share a basic epistemological framework and common purpose. These communities may be spatially clustered or may be widely dispersed. The research presented in this dissertation aims to contribute to this debate on the relative importance of physical and relational proximity to processes of economic learning. It does so through a qualitative study of the European Animation Industry and its attempt to build supportive networks and institutions resembling those found in successful geographic clusters, but in the context of a spatially dispersed industry. It demonstrates how through the extensive use of temporary proximity in the form of conferences, market places, and workshops, European animation was able to create a dense social fabric supporting learning and collaboration among firms that were both geographically and culturally distant. The dissertation is developed in three distinct articles written for journal publication. These are followed by Appendix One discussing methodological issue related to the research, Appendix Two providing empirical introduction to European Animation, the object of the dissertation’s case study. They are followed by a brief conclusion discussing the dissertations findings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
    Number of pages240
    ISBN (Print)9788793155404
    ISBN (Electronic)9788793155411
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    SeriesPhD series
    Number20.2014
    ISSN0906-6934

    Cite this

    Cole, A. S. (2014). Distant Neighbors: Collective Learning Beyond the Cluster. Frederiksberg: Copenhagen Business School [Phd]. PhD series, No. 20.2014