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Title: Learning in developing economy clusters: The role of intermediary organisations
Authors: Clarke, Ian
Advisors: Dickson, K
Keywords: Knowledge;Intermediaries
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Brunel University Brunel Business School PhD Theses
Abstract: Intermediary organisations play a distinctive, yet underestimated, role in the learning processes of developing economy clusters. This study situates itself in a new way of thinking about knowledge and innovation; one that emphasises learning as a social process, within communities that emerge through the development of shared practice. It finds that, while previous formulations of intermediaries have emphasised linking and accessing, in some contexts their roles are more fundamental and include community-building and coordinating common strategies. For many agricultural clusters, reflecting a move in developing economies from „import-substitution‟ towards a focus on exports, learning and innovation has become central. Facing challenges in knowledge generation and transfer (Bessant et al, 2003), clustering aids knowledge diffusion amongst producers and stimulates the learning necessary to penetrate international markets (Schmitz and Nadvi, 1999; Humphrey and Schmitz, 2000). While opportunities sometimes exist for learning from global buyers, however, it is more common in natural-resource based clusters for the onus to be on producers to develop their own capabilities (Gomes, 2006). This study examines the contribution a diverse group of actors, categorised as intermediary organisations, make to this process. The practice-based perspective (Amin and Cohendet, 2004) provides a framework through which the intermediary role is conceptualised, alongside insights from the innovation and network literatures (Howells, 2006; Burt, 2005). While these literatures predominantly focus on linking and accessing, however, intermediaries‟ roles are found, in certain developing economy contexts, to stretch wider. Through a case study of a Peruvian agricultural cluster, they are identified as performing a cluster-building role, by providing a platform for inter-firm cooperation. They also, through their ability to coordinate firm actions, facilitate opportunities for value chain learning. In addition, they provide new knowledge inputs to cluster actors, either through their own knowledge creation capabilities or their ability to translate and adapt existing knowledge.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University
Appears in Collections:Business and Management
Brunel Business School Theses

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