Local or global? Does internationalization drive innovation in clusters?

Marco Bettiol, Maria Chiarvesio, Eleonora Di Maria*, Debora Gottardello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Innovation in clusters is initially rooted in proximity among specialized actors, but over time it results from an interplay between the local and global levels. The internationalization of production and the relocation of cluster manufacturing activities abroad open a debate on the impact of such dynamics upon innovation, between knowledge acquisition opportunities and the weakening of local innovation activities. This paper contributes to the debate by empirically testing whether internationalization has an impact on cluster firms’ innovation outputs. Based on a survey conducted among 259 Italian cluster firms, the results show that upstream and downstream internationalization per se does not impact innovation, measuring product, process, organizational, and marketing innovation outputs. On the contrary, collaboration with external actors, such as designers, research centres or universities, has a positive effect on firms’ innovation outputs. This is consistent with the cluster model and with previous studies focusing on innovation in the cluster context. Our analyses show that it is not internationalization that matters when it comes to innovation for cluster firms. Innovation performances are influenced by the relational capabilities of cluster firms to connect and manage collaboration even outside the cluster scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1995-2014
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number10
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • innovation
  • internationalization
  • clusters
  • manufacturing
  • global value chain
  • collaboration


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