October 18, 2019 In Geography of Innovation

The geography of innovation and knowledge creation

The geography of innovation and knowledge creation focuses on two questions: i) Why is geographical proximity still relevant for innovation and knowledge creation, and ii) Why does innovation and knowledge creation happen in some places rather than others? Regarding the first question, innovation and knowledge creation are social processes; they require interaction between human agents. (Temporary) geographical proximity makes that process easier. Moreover, geographical proximity facilitates the development of shared values, norms, practices and routines, all of which are important for innovation and knowledge creation because they are social processes. This connects to the second question: people ‘cluster’ more in some places rather than others.

Diverse urban areas host more people, provide more opportunities for them to meet and interact, give access to a broader and more diverse pool of knowledge and technologies and are better connected to other places which facilitates innovation and knowledge creation across distance. Many of the reasons why people value living in urban areas make that innovation and knowledge creation also happen more in those places. Chief among those reasons is socio-cultural diversity and tolerance. The former enables a place to draw from a broader set of knowledge, skills, ideas, practices, etc. The latter allows this knowledge, etc. to actually circulate across diverse communities. I contribute to this literature from a complex causality perspective that focuses on cases rather than variables. One of my major achievements is to have introduced QCA to economic geography in a study on openness values and regional innovation.