Gatekeepers in Regional Networks of Innovators

Strong connection of innovative actors within a local network is often thought to increase the region-specific knowledge-stock, resulting in a comparative advantage. Nevertheless, it might also result in a lock-in scenario, if local trajectories are directed towards inferior solutions. Accordingly, it’s debated that successful clusters are characterized by the presence of gatekeepers, i.e. actors which generate novelty by drawing on local and external knowledge. We analyze the role and characteristics of gatekeepers within regional innovation systems by making use of social network analysis based on patent data for four East-German regions. The regional networks seem to be substantially different with respect to the degree of interaction and with respect to their outward orientation. Concerning the characteristics of gatekeepers, we find that absorptive capacity is much more important than size. Public research organisations serve the functions of a gatekeeper to a higher degree than private actors…

The concept of regional innovation systems includes the idea of innovation as a collective process of knowledge transfer between networked actors with the finding that geographical closeness is conducive to the transfer of new knowledge as it allows for personal relationships. Personal contact thus enables you to develop trust, enables social control and enables the transfer of tacit knowledge…

Source: Copenhagen Business School

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Gatekeepers in Regional Networks of Innovators