Impact of Internationalization on the Cognitive Configuration of Industrial Districts. Learning, Forgetting, and Unlearning Effects.

Vecciolini, Claudia (2018) Impact of Internationalization on the Cognitive Configuration of Industrial Districts. Learning, Forgetting, and Unlearning Effects. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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The increasing internationalization of Industrial Districts (IDs) is affecting the system’s production organization and the institutional context surrounding it, raising concerns about the role of localized industries for the development of local societies. To explore the impact of international openness on IDs, we focus on the endogenous cognitive processes occurring within the local system and resulting from the absorption and transformation of internal and external knowledge inputs. Using a conceptual and empirical approach, we contribute to enhance the current understanding of the issue by analyzing the transformations of IDs in terms of the variations on the stock of knowledge embedded into the system, namely the stock of systemic knowledge. In the First Chapter, we develop a conceptual frame to describe the endogenous cognitive processes determined by internationalization. We define three types of processes affecting systemic knowledge: “learning”, contributing to the increase of systemic knowledge; “forgetting”, determining the decrease of systemic knowledge; and “unlearning”, corresponding to the case in which the changes of the ID knowledge endowment lead to both learning and forgetting processes. In the Second Chapter, we apply the conceptual frame to a quantitative analysis referred to a dataset of Italian industrial firms between 2008 and 2015. The aim of the analysis is to measure how the type of internationalization undertaken by the mass of firms in the region, affects the innovation strategies of the ID firms located in the same territory. Based on the distinction between knowledge-seeking and knowledge-exploiting internationalization strategies, the analysis confirms that internationalization affects the innovation strategies of ID firms in different ways. We expect this is because, by modifying the system’s endowment of knowledge, internationalization can either support or constrain the emergence of external economies of learning, affecting local innovation. Chapter Three presents another application of the conceptual frame based on the case study of the Macerata-Fermo footwear IDs. The analysis has the purpose to explore the endogenous cognitive processes triggered by international openness, and to disentangle the potential development paths that the systems are undertaking. In so doing, we also consider the contextual factors affecting the system’s development path, such as the institutional background. In addition to informing us about the learning, forgetting and unlearning effects in the Macerata-Fermo IDs, the findings highlight that the degree of industrial diversification within the system is key to define its development path, favoring unlearning processes towards other industries in response to structural shocks.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Development Economics and Local Systems - DELoS
PhD Cycle:30
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/06 ECONOMIA APPLICATA
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