A Knowledge Perspective on Emerging Clusters and the Role of Creative Entrepreneurs
Vrije University Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Vrije University Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden)
Call for papers
Recently, regions such as Montreal, Munich, and Amsterdam have experienced the emergence of new knowledge-intensive clusters based on innovative combinations of knowledge. These clusters are characterized by a high level of heterogeneity, consisting of firms and individuals from a variety of different industries and professions, e.g. advertisement, web design, software development, multimedia, etc. Although primarily based on anecdotal observations, researchers have observed that the emergence of these new clusters results largely due to the involvement of local creative entrepreneurs (Ruef, 2002) These creative entrepreneurs span a range of diverse communities and are able to combine knowledge assets from these communities in a novel way, thereby creating the foundation for a range of new, innovative firms.
To date, however, the literature focusing on creative entrepreneurship in relation to clusters is limited. Within the cluster literature, we find an increasing focus on the social capital of the regional network in which strong ties make it easy to connect, share experiences, and field new firms and projects (Cooke, 2002). Lately, research on clusters as social networks has begun to focus on communities, investigating how tacit knowledge is shared and generated among socially embedded community members within a cluster. However, this focus on the community as the unit of analysis as well as on the role of the creative entrepreneur within clusters is still in its initial stages of development. To advance the state of research on these topics, there are several areas that require attention.
Power and Conflict. A common critique of the community of practice literature is that issues of power and conflict (e.g., Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1991) that naturally occur in social relationships tend to be neglected. To avoid a biased and more harmonious picture of the creative cluster, several questions need addressing. For example, how does the distribution of power in a cluster affect its development? What are the sources of conflict at the organizational and individual levels and how is conflict effectively resolved?
Learning Perspective. Albeit a promising perspective, we still do not have a clear understanding of how clusters learn. For example, how does the continuous updating of an entrepreneur's personal knowledge contribute to the cluster's learning? How do actors with different and sometimes opposing interests learn together and from each other? What role does organizational learning play in cluster development when the cluster is dominated by small firms and temporary projects, such as in creative clusters (Amit & Cohendet, 2004)?
Knowledge Brokers and Integrators. Knowledge brokers and integrators are particularly important in contributing to learning, and various intermediary positions within networks have been introduced, such as coordinator, gatekeeper, representative, itinerant broker, tertius gaudens, and tertius iunges. If indeed brokering between different knowledge fields within the creative sector is central, more research is needed to understand this brokering process. What is the role of the creative entrepreneur in brokering and integrating knowledge? Is it possible to identify such intermediaries through social network analysis? Or should we use a more fluid, multi-dimensional image of networks with overlapping relational spaces, such as Actor Network Theory suggests?
Social Network Analysis for Data Collection. Social network analysis is often used to assess the structural dimensions of a network; however, collecting data on clusters is complicated. Thus, researchers may benefit from sharing experiences related to research methodologies. How can network analysis be adapted to the nature of a cluster and its underlying communities when it is difficult to create a bounded network? Is an ethnographic approach more appropriate to investigate how tacit knowledge flows and contributes to the development of a cluster’s knowledge?
In summary, we call for original empirical and conceptual research that investigates regional clusters from a knowledge perspective, and in particular creative clusters and the role of the creative entrepreneur. Coherent with the conference's theme, we invite contributions that focus on the possible upsetting consequences of connecting heterogeneous practices, knowledge fields, resources, and routines in emerging clusters. Relevant research topics related to clusters for this sub-theme could include (but are not limited to):
- Disruptions as a result of combining different knowledge in projects
- Disruptions to personal, organizational, and national identities
- Disruptions to traditional ideas of entrepreneurship
- Conflicts and co-opetition within multi-disciplinary project
- Potential conflicts between personal (career) motivation and motivation to contribute to cluster development
- Power and conflict in cluster development
- Tensions and difficulties as a result of nested learning
- Bridging the conceptual gap between two levels of analysis: social networks and clusters
- Uncertainty about how to divide labor and to structure new networks of coordination
Amit, A. & P. Cohendet (2004): Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities, and Communities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bourdieu, P. & L.J.D. Wacquant (1992): An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Cooke, P. (2002): Knowledge Economics: Clusters, Learning and Co-operative Advantage. Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis.
Contu, A. & H. Wilmott (2000): Comment on Wenger and Yanow. 'Knowing in Practice: A "delicate" flower in the organizational learning field'. Organization, 7 (2): 269-276.
Ruef, M. (2002): Stong Ties, Weak Ties and Islands: Structural and Cultural Predictors of Organizational Innovation. Industrial and Corporate Change, 11 (3): 427-449.
About the convenors
Tom Elfring is professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at Vrije University Amsterdam. He coordinates a research group on Strategy and Organization. His research focus is on strategic entrepreneurship, networks, innovation, and learning. He has written seven books; most recently Corporate entrepreneurship and venturing, an edited volume published by Springer in 2005 and a large number of scientific articles in Journals such as Long Range Planning, Small Business Economics, Scandinavian Management Journal and Organization Studies. He has studied in the United States and Italy and has had visiting scholars positions at the Copenhagen Business School and Texas A&M.
Marleen Huysman is professor of business administration at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She coordinates a multi-disciplinary research group; 'Knowledge and Organization' that conducts research on the knowledge economy, knowledge based view of the region, knowledge transfer in strategic alliances, knowledge management, organizational learning and online communities. Marleen is (co-)author of several books on communities and knowledge management and has writes articles published in various international journals and books. Marleen has a master in sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and a PhD in economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She had research and teaching positions at Stanford University, Delft University of Technology and Harvard Business School.
Mette Monsted is professor at the Copenhagen Business School and Director of Doctoral School on Knowledge and Management. She has done research projects on knowledge management under uncertainty, high-tech firms and their networks and cooperation and management of small firms. She has published a number of books and scientific articles in for example, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development. She has a MSc in Sociology and a PhD in Economics and Business Administration.
Robin Teigland is an Associate Professor at the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness (CSC) at the Stockholm School of Economics and teaches at SSE in both the Executive and the full-time MBA programs. Robin's teaching and research interests revolve around the creation and diffusion of knowledge in formal and informal networks and the impact of these flows on competitive advantage at the organizational and regional levels. Prior to completing her PhD at the Institute of International Business at SSE, Robin worked on a number of projects in the US, South America, and Europe for organizations such as McKinsey & Company, Esso, and start-ups. Additionally, she holds a B.A. in Economics from Stanford University, an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, and an M.A. in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. More information on Robin can be found at www.knowledgenetworking.org