Knowledge Dynamics in Innovation Biographies : a Methodological and Spatial Perspective

The dissertation at hand analyses knowledge dynamics in innovation proc-esses from a methodological and spatial perspective. By applying a micro-level and process-based view, it contributes to recent research about knowl-edge creation in innovation. This is implemented with the novel research approa...

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1. Verfasser: Butzin, Anna
Beteiligte: Strambach, Simone (Prof. Dr.) (BetreuerIn (Doktorarbeit))
Format: Dissertation
Sprache:Englisch
Veröffentlicht: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2014
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Zusammenfassung:The dissertation at hand analyses knowledge dynamics in innovation proc-esses from a methodological and spatial perspective. By applying a micro-level and process-based view, it contributes to recent research about knowl-edge creation in innovation. This is implemented with the novel research approach of Innovation Biographies that enables to empirically study the time-spatial unfolding of knowledge in innovation processes. The thesis follows three aims: To analyse the nature of knowledge dynamics in innovation processes from idea to implementation according to content, actor constellations and the related micro-geography. To explicate the research approach of Innovation Biographies and to embed it into the wider methodological array of economic geography, by assessing the value-added of its results in relation to other empirical ap-proaches that analyse knowledge generation and social interaction in in-novation. To study sectoral innovation specifics within tourism and construction by analysing the mutual influence of knowledge dynamics and the geo-graphical and social context in concrete innovation processes, and by in-terpreting findings in light of the sectors’ particular distinctions. The essential finding contributing to the first aim is that knowledge combinations from different sectors and scales have had decisive influence on the analysed innovation processes. High-tech knowledge was combined with low-tech knowledge; production structures of the automotive industry influenced those of prefabricated houses, football clubs of the German Bundes league cooperated with tourism actors, etc. The geography of knowledge dynamics revealed a multi-scalar scope, even if impact of different scales varied according to sectoral and socio-spatial contexts in which innovation emerged and gained momentum. Furthermore, in contrast to mainstream assumptions, the actor networks of the innovations were only to a limited extent based on previously existing trustful relations. Networks have rather been constituted by a mixture of actors known and unknown to the innovating organisation in order to account for the arising novelty. Referring to the second aim, findings revealed that the micro-level approach of Innovation Biographies provides substantially enriched insight into knowledge creation, its dynamics and time-spatial patterns of innovation. Thus, Innovation Biographies offer a relevant and complementary perspec-tive as compared to other research approaches in economic geography. Through a specific combination of interviewing techniques, network analy-ses, and visualisations, it is possible to reconstruct the generation of knowl-edge in innovation creation from idea to implementation. However, draw-backs, e.g. concerning the fuzziness of the precise beginning and end of an innovation process and strong reliance on cooperation of interview partners remain. As to the third aim, knowledge dynamics and innovation behaviour in tour-ism and construction are heavily influenced by spatial distinctions of the sectors’ production structures. In tourism, the density of competitors causes massive competition and frequent imitation of innovation. Two types of in-novation strategies counteracting competition have been elaborated. The first is labelled “assimilation”, the second “distinction”. In the former strat-egy, proximate actors are involved in knowledge generation. By incorporat-ing actors that otherwise could be potential competitors, a lever is installed that prevents imitation. Within the latter strategy, competitive advantage is achieved through the incorporation of knowledge from actors located in other countries. Utilising internationally sourced, for others not easily acces-sible knowledge, allows innovators to develop unique services that cannot be immediately imitated by others. The construction sector is characterised through strongly localised, tempo-rary, project-based structures that result in renewed knowledge generation in every new building project and therewith in costly repetitive actions. Cur-rent innovation strategies, therefore, strive to overcome spatial constraints and project-based structures, e.g. through prefabrication or service-orientation. These innovation strategies are crucially shaped by knowledge combinations.
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/z2014.0225