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Hanken School of Economics Working Papers, Hanken School of Economics

No 494:
Network Knowledge versus Cluster Knowledge- The Gordian Knot of Knowledge Transfer Concepts

Maria Forsman () and Nikodemus Solitander ()

Abstract: Both management scholars and economic geographers have studied knowledge and argued that the ability to transfer knowledge is critical to competitive success. Networks and other forms for cooperation are often the context when analyzing knowledge transfer within management research, while economic geographers focus on the role of the cluster for knowledge transfer and creation. With the common interest in knowledge transfer, few attempts to interdisciplinary research have been made. The aim of this paper is to outline the knowledge transfer concepts in the two strands of literature of management and economic geography (EG). The paper takes an analytical approach to review the existing contributions and seek to identify the benefits of further interaction between the disciplines. Furthermore, it offers an interpretation of the concepts of cluster and network, and suggests a clearer distinction between their respective definitions. The paper posits that studies of internal networks transcending national borders and clusters are not necessarily mutually exclusive when it comes to transfer of knowledge and the learning process of the firm. Our conclusion is that researchers in general seem to increasingly acknowledge the importance of studying both the effect of and the need for geographical proximity and external networks for the knowledge transfer process, but that there exists equivocalness in defining clusters and networks.

Keywords: knowledge transfer; networks; clusters; ecologies of knowledge; interdisciplinary research; (follow links to similar papers)

30 pages, December 15, 2003

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