Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2015/7: Proximity, knowledge base and the innovation process The case of Unilever’s Becel diet margarine

Mila Davids () and Koen Frenken ()
Additional contact information
Mila Davids: School of Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology
Koen Frenken: Innovation Studies, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University & CIRCLE, Lund University

Abstract: The proximity concept refers to types of inter-organizational relationships that are expected to facilitate interactive learning and collaborative innovation. Different forms of proximity include geographical, cognitive, social, institutional and organizational proximity. Following an extensive case study of a new diet margarine developed by Unilever, we extent the proximity framework by theorizing how the relative importance of each proximity dimension depends on the type of knowledge being produced, where we distinguish between analytical, synthetic and symbolic knowledge. We argue that our theoretical framework in principle applies to product innovations in all science-based industries.

Keywords: innovation; proximity; knowledge; science-based industries; multinational enterprise; management

JEL-codes: F23; L66; N30; O31; O32

36 pages, February 15, 2015

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