Coping with peripherality. External knowledge acquisition and innovation activities of businesses in peripheral settings
Innovations are widely regarded as essential elements for entrepreneurial renewal and regional socio-economic development. They represent knowledge driven processes based on interactions between complementary actors. Models, that conceptualise the (spatial) configurations of such links, suggest, that a balance between closeness and distance is most conducive for activating learning and innovation. However, peripheral regions tend to be characterised by fragmented actor bases that only allow for limited local buzz, suggesting an even higher significance of trans-local channels for acquiring external knowledge.
As most regional innovation studies focus on investigating agglomerated localities, only little is known on whether businesses in peripheralised regions compensate for lacking local exchange opportunities, and if so, how associated strategies look like. But insights into the configuration of external knowledge acquisition channels, e.g. with respect to spatial range or actor composition, may contribute to further conceptualise innovation processes that occur outside actor-dense contexts. Connected questions regarding the mechanisms used to initiate external linkages in the first place often remain unaddressed, by taking for granted that firms can readily gain access to external knowledge sources. However, establishing ties to external partners requires competencies and resources, both of which are likely to vary between firms. These often neglected, yet fundamental, processes deserve further investigation and conceptualisation.
Eastern Germany and Estonia will form the regional focus to address the questions raised above. Empirically, they will be approached by a quantitative-oriented business survey and subsequent qualitative interviews with business representatives, which aim at conducting in-depth firm-level case studies.