Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32451
A Literature Review on the Effect of Industrial Clusters and the Absorptive Capacity on Innovation

Authors: Enrique Claver Cortés, Bartolomé Marco Lajara, Eduardo Sánchez García, Pedro Seva Larrosa, Encarnación Manresa Marhuenda, Lorena Ruiz Fernández, Esther Poveda Pareja


In recent decades, the analysis of the effects of clustering as an essential factor for the development of innovations and the competitiveness of enterprises has raised great interest in different areas. Nowadays, companies have access to almost all tangible and intangible resources located and/or developed in any country in the world. However, despite the obvious advantages that this situation entails for companies, their geographical location has shown itself, increasingly clearly, to be a fundamental factor that positively influences their innovative performance and competitiveness. Industrial clusters could represent a unique level of analysis, positioned between the individual company and the industry, which makes them an ideal unit of analysis to determine the effects derived from company membership of a cluster. Also, the absorptive capacity (hereinafter 'AC') can mediate the process of innovation development by companies located in a cluster. The transformation and exploitation of knowledge could have a mediating effect between knowledge acquisition and innovative performance. The main objective of this work is to determine the key factors that affect the degree of generation and use of knowledge from the environment by companies and, consequently, their innovative performance and competitiveness. The elements analyzed are the companies' membership of a cluster and the AC. To this end, 30 most relevant papers published on this subject in the "Web of Science" database have been reviewed. Our findings show that, within a cluster, the knowledge coming from the companies' environment can significantly influence their innovative performance and competitiveness, although in this relationship, the degree of access and exploitation of the companies to this knowledge plays a fundamental role, which depends on a series of elements both internal and external to the company.

Keywords: Absorptive capacity, clusters, innovation, knowledge.

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 762


[1] Aydalot, P. (1986). Innovative milieu. European Research Group on İnnovative Milieux, Paris.
[2] Aguilar-Olaves, G., Herrera, L. y Clemenza, C. (2014). Capacidad de absorción: aproximacionesteóricas y empíricas para el sector servicio. RevistaVenezolana de Gerencia, 19(67), 499-518.
[3] Bathelt, H. (2005). Cluster relations in the media industry: Exploring the distanced neighbour paradox in Leipzig. Regional Studies, 39(1), 105-127.
[4] Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., y Maskell, P. (2004). Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Progress in human geography, 28(1), 31-56.
[5] Becattini G. (1992), “The Marshallian industrial district as a socio-economic notion”, in Pyke, F. / Becattini, G. / Sengenberger, W. (1990) (eds.), Industrial districts and inter-firm co-operation in Italy, International Institute for Labour Studies, Geneva, pp. 37-51.
[6] Bell, G. G. (2005). Clusters, networks, and firm innovativeness. Strategic management journal, 26(3), 287-295.
[7] Berghman, L., Matthyssens, P. y Vandenbempt, K. (2006). Building competences for new customer value creation: An exploratory study. Industrial marketing management, 35(8), 961-973.
[8] Boschma, R., Eriksson, R. y Lindgren, U. (2008). How does labour mobility affect the performance of plants? The importance of relatedness and geographical proximity. Journal of Economic Geography, 9(2), 169-190.
[9] Boix, R. y Galletto, V. (2009). Innovation and industrial districts: a first approach to the measurement and determinants of the I-district effect. Regional Studies, 43(9), 1117-1133.
[10] Boix, R. y Trullén, J. (2010). Industrial districts, innovation and I-district effect: territory or industrial specialization? European Planning Studies, 18(10), 1707-1729.
[11] Bröring, S., Martin Cloutier, L. y Leker, J. (2006). The front end of innovation in an era of industry convergence: evidence from nutraceuticals and functional foods. R&D Management, 36(5), 487-498.
[12] Brunswicker, S. y Vanhaverbeke, W. (2015). Open innovation in small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs): External knowledge sourcing strategies and internal organizational facilitators. Journal of Small Business Management, 53(4), 1241-1263.
[13] Brusco, S. (1996). Sistemas globales y sistemas locales. Informacióncomercialespañola, 754, 63-95.
[14] Callon, M., Courtial, J. P. y Penan, H. (1995). Cienciometría: la medición de la actividadcientífica: de la bibliometría a la vigilanciatecnológica. Asturias, España: Trea.
[15] Carayannis, E. G., Popescu, D., Sipp, C. y Stewart, M. (2006). Technological learning for entrepreneurial development (TL4ED) in the knowledge economy (KE): case studies and lessons learned. Technovation, 26(4), 419-443.
[16] Castrillón, M. A. G. (2015). Modelo de capacidadesdinámicas. DimensiónEmpresarial, 13(1), 111-131.
[17] Claver-Cortés, E., Marco-Lajara, B., Seva-Larrosa, P., y Ruiz-Fernández, L. (2019). Competitive advantage and industrial district: A review of the empirical evidence about the district effect. Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, 29(3), 211-235.
[18] Cohen, W. M., y Levinthal, D. A. (1989). Innovation and learning: the two faces of R & D. The economic journal, 99(397), 569-596.
[19] Cohen, W. M., y Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative science quarterly, 35(1), 128-152.
[20] Cohen, W. M., y Levinthal, D. A. (1994). Fortune favors the prepared firm. Management science, 40(2), 227-251.
[21] Corò, G. (1997).Competenzecontestuali e regolazioneeconomica locale. Spunti di ricerca a partiredall’analisi di alcunidistrettiindustriali di successo del Nord Est. Un paradigma per idistrettiindustriali. Radicistoricheattualità e sfide future, Grafo, Brescia.
[22] D'Este, P., Guy, F., y Iammarino, S. (2012). Shaping the formation of university–industry research collaborations: what type of proximity does really matter? Journal of economic geography, 13(4), 537-558.
[23] Dei Ottati, G. (2006). El ‘efectodistrito’: algunosaspectosconceptuales de susventajascompetitivas. Economía industrial, 359, 73-79.
[24] Depner, H., y Bathelt, H. (2005). Exporting the German model: the establishment of a new automobile industry cluster in Shanghai. Economic Geography, 81(1), 53-81.
[25] Drucker, P. (2004). La disciplina de la innovación. Harvard business review, 82(8), 3-7.
[26] Duchek, S. (2015). Designing Absorptive Capacity? An Analysis of Knowledge Absorption Practices in German High-Tech Firms. International Journal of Innovation Management, 19(4), 1-22.
[27] Ferreira, G. C. y Ferreira, J. J. (2017). Absorptive capacity: an analysis in the context of brazilian family firms. RAM. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 18(1), 174-204.
[28] Formichella, M. (2005). La evolución del concepto de innovación y surelación con el desarrollo. Argentina: INTA.
[29] Fuensanta, M. J. R. (2010). Influencia de las economíasexternas de distritosobre la productividadempresarial: un enfoquemultinivel. InvestigacionesRegionales - Journal of Regional Research, 18, 61-82.
[30] García-Peñalvo, F. J., Colomo-Palacios, R. y Lytras, M. D. (2012). Informal learning in work environments: training with the Social Web in the workplace. Behaviour& Information Technology, 31(8), 753-755.
[31] Giuliani, E., y Bell, M. (2005). The micro-determinants of meso-level learning and innovation: evidence from a Chilean wine cluster. Research policy, 34(1), 47-68.
[32] Giuliani, E. (2006). The selective nature of knowledge networks in clusters: evidence from the wine industry. Journal of economic geography, 7(2), 139-168.
[33] Graf, H. (2010). Gatekeepers in regional networks of innovators. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 35(1), 173-198.
[34] Greve, H. R. (2009). Bigger and safer: The diffusion of competitive advantage. Strategic Management Journal, 30(1), 1-23.
[35] Hernández, J. G. V. y Bautista, G. M. (2017). Dynamic capabilities analysis in strategic management of learning and knowledge absorption. Race: revista de administração, contabilidade e economia, 16(1), 227-260.
[36] Hervas-Oliver, J. L. y Albors-Garrigos, J. (2008). The role of the firm's internal and relational capabilities in clusters: when distance and embeddedness are not enough to explain innovation. Journal of Economic Geography, 9(2), 263-283.
[37] Julián, B. F. y Zornoza, C. C. (2008). La capacidad de absorción de conocimiento: factoresdeterminantesinternos y externos. Dirección y organización, 36, 35-50.
[38] King, A. y Lakhani, K. (2011). The contingent effect of absorptive capacity: an open innovation analysis. Boston: Harvard Business School. Working paper. 11-102
[39] Kodama, T. (2008). The role of intermediation and absorptive capacity in facilitating university–industry linkages—An empirical study of TAMA in Japan. Research Policy, 37(8), 1224-1240.
[40] Kostopoulos, K., Papalexandris, A., Papachroni, M. y Ioannou, G. (2011). Absorptive capacity, innovation, and financial performance. Journal of Business Research, 64(12), 1335-1343.
[41] Krugman, P. R. (1991). Geography and trade. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.
[42] Lane, P. J., Salk, J. E., y Lyles, M. A. (2001). Absorptive capacity, learning, and performance in international joint ventures. Strategic management journal, 22(12), 1139-1161.
[43] Lane, P. J., Koka, B. R., y Pathak, S. (2006). The reification of absorptive capacity: A critical review and rejuvenation of the construct. Academy of management review, 31(4), 833-863.
[44] Lazaric, N., Longhi, C., y Thomas, C. (2008). Gatekeepers of knowledge versus platforms of knowledge: from potential to realized absorptive capacity. Regional Studies, 42(6), 837-852.
[45] Li, J., Chen, D., y Shapiro, D. M. (2010). Product innovations in emerging economies: The role of foreign knowledge access channels and internal efforts in Chinese firms. Management and Organization Review, 6(2), 243-266.
[46] Lin, H. F., Su, J. Q. y Higgins, A. (2016). How dynamic capabilities affect adoption of management innovations. Journal of Business Research, 69(2), 862-876.
[47] Lorenzen, M. y Mudambi, R. (2012). Clusters, connectivity and catch-up: Bollywood and Bangalore in the global economy. Journal of Economic Geography, 13(3), 501-534.
[48] Malecki, E. J. (2012). Regional social capital: why it matters. Regional Studies, 46(8), 1023-1039.
[49] Malmberg, A. y Maskell, P. (2006). Localized learning revisited. Growth and Change, 37(1), 1-18.
[50] Menzel, M. P. y Fornahl, D. (2009). Cluster life cycles—dimensions and rationales of cluster evolution. Industrial and corporate change, 19(1), 205-238.
[51] Molina‐Morales, F. X. y Martínez‐Fernández, M. T. (2009). Too much love in the neighborhood can hurt: How an excess of intensity and trust in relationships may produce negative effects on firms. Strategic Management Journal, 30(9), 1013-1023.
[52] Molina‐Morales, F. X. y Martínez‐Fernández, M. T. (2010). Social networks: effects of social capital on firm innovation. Journal of Small Business Management, 48(2), 258-279.
[53] Morrison, A. (2008). Gatekeepers of knowledge within industrial districts: who they are, how they interact. Regional Studies, 42(6), 817-835.
[54] Parhankangas, A., y Arenius, P. (2003). From a corporate venture to an independent company: a base for a taxonomy for corporate spin-off firms. Research Policy, 32(3), 463-481.
[55] Porter, M. E. (1990) The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: Free Press.
[56] Porter, M. E. (1998). On Competition. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
[57] Porter, M. E. (2000). Location, Competition, and Economic Development: Local Clusters in a Global Economy. Economic Development Quarterly, 14(1), 15–34.
[58] Porter, M. E., y Ketels, C. (2009). Clusters and industrial districts: common roots, different perspectives. A handbook of industrial districts, 172-183.
[59] Pouder, R., y St. John, C. H. (1996). Hot spots and blind spots: Geographical clusters of firms and innovation. Academy of management review, 21(4), 1192-1225.
[60] Puig, F. y Marques, H. (2011). The dynamic evolution of the proximity effect in the textile industry. European Planning Studies, 19(8), 1423-1439.
[61] Roberts, N., Galluch, P., Dinger, M. y Grover, V. (2012). Absorptive Capacity and Information Systems Research: Review, Synthesis, and Directions for Future Research. MIS Quarterly, 36(2), 625-648.
[62] Rothaermel, F. T. (2002). Technological discontinuities and interfirm cooperation: What determines a startup's attractiveness as alliance partner? IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 49(4), 388-397.
[63] Saiz, L., Miguel, D. P. y del Campo, M. Á. M. (2018). The knowledge absorptive capacity to improve the cooperation and innovation in the firm. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 11(2), 290-307.
[64] Schillaci, C., Romano, M. y Nicotra, M. (2013). Territory’s Absorptive Capacity. ERJ, 3(1), 109-126.
[65] Signorini, L. F. (1994). The price of Prato, or measuring the industrial district effect. Papers in Regional Science, 73(4), 369-392.
[66] Staber, U. y Sydow, J. (2002). Organizational adaptive capacity: A structuration perspective. Journal of management inquiry, 11(4), 408-424.
[67] Storper, M. y Harrison, B. (1991). Flexibility, hierarchy and regional development: the changing structure of industrial production systems and their forms of governance in the 1990s. Research policy, 20(5), 407-422.
[68] Tallman, S., Jenkins, M., Henry, N., y Pinch, S. (2004). Knowledge, clusters, and competitive advantage. Academy of management review, 29(2), 258-271.
[69] Tallman, S., and Phene, A. (2007). Leveraging knowledge across geographic boundaries. Organization Science, 18(2), 252-260.
[70] Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., &Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic management journal, 18(7), 509-533.
[71] TerWal, A. L. y Boschma, R. (2011). Co-evolution of firms, industries and networks in space. Regional studies, 45(7), 919-933.
[72] Todorova, G., y Durisin, B. (2007). Absorptive capacity: Valuing a reconceptualization. Academy of management review, 32(3), 774-786.
[73] Valencia-Rodríguez, M. (2015). Capacidadesdinámicas, innovación de producto e aprendizajeorganizacionalenpymes del sector cárnico. Ingeniería industrial, 36(3), 287-305.
[74] Valentim, L., Lisboa, J. V. y Franco, M. (2016). Knowledge management practices and absorptive capacity in small and medium‐sized enterprises: is there really a linkage? R&D Management, 46(4), 711-725.
[75] Vega‐Jurado, J., Gutiérrez‐Gracia, A. y Fernández‐de‐Lucio, I. (2008). Analyzing the determinants of firm's absorptive capacity: beyond R&D. R&D Management, 38(4), 392-405.
[76] Xu, B., Xiao, Y. y Rahman, M. U. (2019). Enterprise level cluster innovation with policy design. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 31(1-2), 46-61.
[77] Yayavaram, S. y Ahuja, G. (2008). Decomposability in knowledge structures and its impact on the usefulness of inventions and knowledge-base malleability. Administrative Science Quarterly, 53(2), 333-362.
[78] Zahra, S. A. y George, G. (2002). Absorptive capacity: A review, reconceptualization, and extension. Academy of management review, 27(2), 185-203.